Monday, February 14, 2011

Odetta:The Queen of Folk by Stephen Alcorn

Odetta:The Queen of Folk by Stephen Alcorn
This is about Odetta Holmes, a folk music legend and a politcal activist. Alcorn begins when Odetta is born. As young girl, Odetta finds the piano and her voice. Alcorn shows the Jim Crow world Odetta grew up in. When Odetta gets older she uses her to bring a little peace. Alcorn uses a lyrical style, which is very fitting for a musical biography. His illustrations are vivid and beautiful.

I liked the Odetta: The Queen of Folk the first time. I only wished there was more back information. There is an There's only a page and a half Ode to Odetta. Which isn't extensive enough especially since the story itself leans more towards fictional. More back information could've round up Odetta: The Queen of Fok nicely.

I like to read picture books at least twice. Usually the second time in, I can take the time to appreicate the text and illustrations more. Or in this case spot something I missed.

Someone in Birmingham
Alabama, a long
long-time ago must've
accidentally burned
the Christmas ham
That's how the city
of Birmingham
got its nickname
Burning Ham

That's the second passage. I am surprised I didn't see that the first time. After I saw it, I couldn't unseen it. It ruined the whole book for me. I wouldn't expect Birmingham's 1960's nickname Bombingham to make it into a children's picture book.

However to spin a tale like this and say Birmingham is called Burning Ham because of a burned christmas ham seems very very wrong to me and lessens the truth of what really happened.

When I pointed this out to a friend, they suggested maybe it was something Odetta said, meant to be witty folk wisdom. That's very possible and if it was Alcorn should've referenced it in the back.

For half a second I considered not posting this, in case Odetta really did say that or something similar. Though I decided I would risk looking foolish.

I've linked this post to Non fiction Monday. The round up can be found at Wrapped in Foil this week


Alex said...

I am glad to see there is a children's book about this great singer. She was one of my favorites and it would be nice for kids today to know her and her music.

Roberta said...

You know I struggle with whether or not to point out things I don't agree with in books too. Reading yours, it makes me realize that you are an expert in your area in a way that no one else is, and it helps others to discover new things, whether they agree or not.


Cynequa Marie Sain said...

I literally just read this. An excellent read for our babies to enjoy, who may never otherwise hear about her. Not enough has been written about her. I feel Stephen Alcorn did a superb job.

Whatever gaps exists in any read, we can always fill. ;)