R-E-S-P-E-C-T Aretha Franklin, The Queen of Soul
Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrator: Frank Morrison
Simon & Schuster
This book is a quick introduction to the life and accomplishments of the famed singer. Written in rhyming couplets, each two page spread is headlined by a theme word, spelled out like Aretha’s most famous song R-E-S-P-E-C-T. In the theme of her roots in gospel and the Church, the first spread starts off:
Cradled by the church, rocked by an ebony sea,
Aretha says a little prayer each night on bended knee.
The illustrations are bright, popping off the pages in a way that is sure to engage young kids. A lot of the words and concepts might require adult explanations, but for me that is the joy of reading to young kids – building their vocabulary and hearing them repeating new words later.
Aretha’s voice resounds with color and clarity,
spanning three-plus octaves, the maestros all agree.
One spread that stood out as an odd choice to include in a book for young readers was the one on:
Clarence and Barbara Franklin can’t seem to agree.
Daddy wasn’t faithful, so Mama chose to flee.
Not necessarily the content I want to discuss with my young kids, especially the word choice “flee,” which implies she was in danger. The accompanying image on the page is not reassuring either. Morrison chose to use the same image for the S-T-R-I-F-E spread as an earlier spread illustrating the family settling in D-E-T-R-O-I-T. It looks like he just erased Aretha’s mother from the picture. The fact that Clarence’s face bears the same grin in both images is a little unsettling, and as someone familiar with domestic violence, a little triggering. The choice to include this content at all, given the reading level for this book is a bit baffling.
The book is a simple ode to the great singer. A nice enough introduction to her prolific life. I’d simply glue the strife pages off and read the rest to a younger crowd.
More books for this Age Group can be found here.
My thanks to Simon & Schuster for providing a Review Copy of this book. All opinions provided herein are my own.
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