Nina : A Story of Nina Simone
by Todd, Traci N.; Robinson, Christian (ILT)

"A biography of Nina Simone, an acclaimed singer whose music gave voice to the struggle for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement"-

When Chicago native Traci N. Todd was born, her father decided her initials should stand for dynamite, just like his. He raised her on Ray Charles and Nina Simone, and her mother read her every good book. Traci grew up to become a children's book editor and currently lives in Jackson Heights, Queens where she writes, edits, and listens to Ray Charles and Nina Simone, while her partner draws comic books.

Christian Robinson received a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor for his art in Last Stop on Market Street. He is the author and illustrator of the picture books Another and You Matter, and he has illustrated many more, including Carmela Full of Wishes, the Gaston and Friends series, School's First Day of School, and The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade. You can visit Christian at or on Instagram @theartoffun.

*Starred Review* Nina Simone's beauty and talent is given prominent expression by multiaward-winning Robinson in this picture-book biography. With artwork highlighting the musician's profile, Robinson emphasizes Simone's noble stature as a musician who combined her love of classical music with church standards and jazz to create a unique style that soared to prominence alongside her dedication to the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Often shown facing her piano, whether on her father's lap or at Carnegie Hall, the woman born as Eunice Kathleen Waymon is always foremost in the images, while Todd's prose eloquently tells her story from childhood to fame. Woven through the narrative is Simone's lifelong awareness of the injustices Black Americans faced, from watching her parents forced out of the front row to make room for a white couple during a childhood recital in her hometown to learning from prominent friends about the tumult and violence faced by Black people in the south as the movement for equality gained steam. Robinson's illustrations subtly portray the subject's transformation, particularly in her clothes, which gradually move from more subdued dresses to her bold, colorful, and Afrocentric signature style. In her end material, Todd provides additional biographical details for readers interested in gleaning more about the renowned woman. A worthy biography for all collections and especially for those that serve music-loving children. Grades 1-3. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

This biography of African American icon Nina Simone follows the development of her early musical talent to her popularity as a musician during the civil rights movement. Born in North Carolina in 1933, Eunice Kathleen Waymon "sang before she could talk and found rhythm before she could walk." Her mama, a minister, sang only church songs, and her daddy played the upright piano, teaching Eunice to play jazz when Mama was out. From the age of 3, Eunice played music at church while Mama preached. Eunice's gift was undeniable, and the White woman Mama cleaned for during the week helped arrange music lessons, where Eunice learned classical piano, falling in love with Bach's music. After high school, Eunice went to New York City to attend the Juilliard School of Music. But when she auditioned for a transfer to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, she was not accepted, and she felt her dream of being a musician slipping away. When she took jobs in nightclubs, she performed as Nina Simone to keep her mother from discovering her secret. The narrative includes details of the love and support of family and community that gave Nina her early start, the disappointments and humiliations she suffered because of racism, and the determination and sheer love of music and of her people that carried her to success despite the setbacks. Todd's musical prose allows readers into Nina's perspective, and Robinson's scenes and portraits absolutely sing with energy, keeping pace perfectly with the text as it expands beyond typical picture-book length. (This book was reviewed digitally.) Do not miss this complex story of an American legend. (note) (Picture book/biography. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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