Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone

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Nina is a French picture-book about the American jazz pianist Nina Simone. It’s not so much a story as it is a way to begin a conversation about race. Three generations of women are connected: Nina’s mother, Nina herself, and Nina’s baby daughter. The book begins with a verse from a lullaby the grown-up Nina sang to her baby, and then shows racism that Nina experienced as a child in the years before the civil rights movement in the USA.

The black-and-white illustrations are drawn in a cool style, like jazz on the page. The visual metaphors are very interesting. One illustration shows the white and black keys of a piano. The next depicts white people sitting on benches like seats on a bus, with black people standing behind them. The white and black people are arranged on the page to resemble the white and black keyboard, where, Nina tells us, white notes are whole, and blacks are half. The final message is simple: people need to protect their dreams of justice in the world. Even though the subtitle is Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist, this book doesn’t show what Nina Simone did, except to pass the dream of racial equality on to her daughter. This is a beautiful and serious book, but I think some children won’t understand what it is about without talking to parents or teachers. Even though it’s a picture book, it isn’t only for little kids.

Reviewed By:

Author Alice Brière-Haquet • Bruno Liance, Illustrator
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 40 pages
Publisher Charlesbridge
Publish Date 2017-Dec-05
ISBN 9781580898270
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue February 2018
Category Children's


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