R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul
R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul
Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover22.05
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Annotation: A vibrant portrait of Aretha Franklin that pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T this Queen of Soul deserves.
Genre: [Biographies]
Catalog Number: #216568
Format: Perma-Bound from Publisher's Hardcover
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Illustrator: Morrison, Frank,
Pages: 48
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-534-45228-1 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8047-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-534-45228-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8047-6
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2019035643
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
This impressionistic picture-book biography of Aretha Franklin (1942-2018) consists of a series of rhyming couplets following the iconic singer through her life. Weatherford employs a clever and resonant device: each poem has a one-word title that is spelled out just as it is in Franklin's most famous song, "Respect." So, "B-L-E-S-S-E-D" introduces a very young Aretha, the pastor's daughter, as she "says a little prayer each night"; "D-E-B-U-T" sees the fourteen-year-old cutting her first gospel album; "G-R-O-O-V-E" shows her "rocking R&B"; "P-R-O-U-D" finds her singing at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Naturally, the book culminates in a poem titled "R-E-S-P-E-C-T": "The Queen of Soul blessed us with a golden legacy. / But she would probably call it, 'the gift that God gave me...'" The book's trim size is roughly that of a record album, and illustrator Morrison takes full advantage of its expanse. Rich oil paintings place the singer in a variety of venues, from recording studio to civil rights protest to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The arresting title page, referencing the song "Freeway of Love," shows a pink Cadillac about to drop the pedal and go, go, go. Appended with an author's note giving specifics about Franklin's life and with a discography of her biggest hits. Martha V. Parravano
Kirkus Reviews
The early beginnings and professional life of the prolific singer and activist are presented in this LP–shaped picture book.The text is presented in rhyming couplets, one per double-page spread, with a spelled-out lead word printed in block letters setting each one up. “B-L-E-S-S-E-D” leads off, and the titular “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” introduces the final couplet. The short stanzas move the book quickly from one point in Franklin’s life to the next, hinting kaleidoscopically at who she was and why she was so important. Children with no previous familiarity with the subject will require context from caregivers to understand most points. (A narrative biographical note sums up the main points in the backmatter.) Weatherford acknowledges that Franklin’s mother left the family when her preacher father was unfaithful: “Clarence and Barbara Franklin can’t seem to agree. / Daddy wasn’t faithful, so Mama chose to flee.” The spread that includes this information is introduced with “S-T-R-I-F-E,” and the illustration is almost identical to one seen earlier symbolically showing the family establishing roots in “D-E-T-R-O-I-T.” Though Barbara is missing from the “S-T-R-I-F-E” illustration, Clarence wears the same grin, and the effect is unsettling. Overall, the striking, richly colored, painterly illustrations work well with the text and perform due homage to Franklin, but the story of Franklin’s life is left wanting. The oversized, 11 ¼-inch-square trim fittingly accommodates its subject.Read as an ode to Aretha Franklin rather than as a true biography. (discography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)
School Library Journal Starred Review
PreS-Gr 3 Weatherford, using rhyming couplets to explain important words from Aretha Franklin's life ( Detroit , groove , proud , and humble ) as she chronicles the Queen of Soul's childhood, her rising stardom, and her political activism. Readers who are craving in-depth details about Franklin can turn to the author's note or other sources, but this book is not a meticulous biography. Rather, Weatherford presents a powerful celebration of the legendary singer that offers snapshots of major life events. Morrison's colorful paintings pulse with energy, and every page is dynamic. The interplay between the deceptively simple narrative and Morrison's illustrations is pitch-perfect. For example, the pages for "Detroit" (the family moves from Memphis, TN) and "Strife" (Barbara Franklin leaves the family after her husband's infidelity) mirror each other to powerful effect: The family stands before a large tree to "put down roots" in each spread, but Barbara is absent in the artwork for "Strife." This beautiful picture book biography packs an emotional punch that is as compelling as the timeless songs that Franklin made famous. VERDICT Purchase this luscious, lyrical book for all nonfiction collections. Jen McConnel, Queen's Univ., Ont.
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* The award-winning author-illustrator team of Weatherford and Morrison (The Roots of Rap, 2019) have taken on the life story of the Queen of Soul, and the result is a beautiful work of art. Weatherford employs a minimal, lyrical text of rhyming couplets that is evocative of "Respect," Franklin's signature hit, with spelled-out words like "B-L-E-S-S-E-D" and "G-R-O-O-V-E" heading every spread. Morrison's soulful oil paintings are expressive of the spirituality that enveloped the singer's youth, centered around church. They also convey the turmoil of periods like the civil rights movement, in which Franklin played a part. Her childhood wasn't easy. She moved from Memphis to Detroit, and her mother left the family after her father, a preacher and activist, was unfaithful. But Franklin's powerful voice catapulted her to record deals in her teens and then to chart-topping hits. She became a fixture in the most significant events of her time, with concerts gracing marches for racial equality in the 1960s and Barack Obama's inauguration as the first Black president. Young readers will take away the full arc of Franklin's story, from child prodigy to talented artist to icon, and how it comes full circle, because after all the accolades and influence, in the end, Franklin is a down-to-earth Detroit woman known as Ree-Ree.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (8/1/20)
Coretta Scott King Award (8/1/20)
School Library Journal Starred Review (8/1/20)
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 357
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 510648 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: AD830L

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Illustration Award! From a New York Times bestselling author and an acclaimed illustrator comes this vibrant portrait of Aretha Franklin that pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T this Queen of Soul deserves.

Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father’s Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves.

Her string of hit songs earned her the title “the Queen of Soul,” multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn’t just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights.

This authoritative, rhythmic, Coretta Scott King Illustration Award–winning picture book biography will captivate young readers with Aretha’s inspiring story.

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