Written & Illustrated by:
Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara
Illustrators: Amy Blackwell (Aretha)
Sophie Beer (Elton)
For ages: 4-8 years
- Historical Figures
- Women in Music
- Black Culture & Identity
Summary: Nobody can deny that the Little People Big Dreams series has been an international sensation, and with good reason. An aspect of them that I really love is the use of different illustrators for the books. It keeps them fresh and introduces the reader to so many amazing artists and artistic styles. The timeline and photos in the back are also a favorite of mine, mostly because I’m a giant dork and dig that sort of stuff. I decided to do a roundup of three LPBD books that I received so kindly from Quarto recently, about some well-known musicians from recent history.
Aretha Franklin: This book is upbeat and positive, filled with Black people happy and supportive of Aretha and her singing throughout her entire life. It also touches on her activism, friendship with MLK Jr., and how she sang at Obama’s inauguration. Aretha is a prolific songwriter, performer, and was the first woman to ever be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!
Prince: Like Aretha, Prince is practically a household name. I personally love the song “Raspberry Beret”, but didn’t know much about his childhood and interests before becoming a worldwide sensation. “Prince” was actually the name his musician father used onstage, and he inherited it! For his first album, Prince did absolutely everything on it (even playing 27 instruments himself!). Prince was a flamboyant performer that allowed men to embrace different fashion, rock high heels, and inspired everyone to be unapologetically themself.
Elton John: Speaking of performers that embrace fantastical fashion onstage, we couldn’t leave out Elton John. Starting as a shy boy named Reggie, music was his escape. In college, he befriended a songwriter that had trouble writing melodies and they became musical partners. This book also speaks about Elton’s sexuality and marriage to his husband David in a celebratory way, something that warmed my little queer heart very much.
These books were so kindly sent in two surprise packages from Quarto! However, all decisions to review and opinions are my own.
Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara
Mª Isabel Sanchez Vegara was born in Barcelona, Spain, and she is a writer and creative director perhaps best known as the author of much of the Little People, Big Dreams series. Six years ago, she decided to self-publish a book that had been in her mind for a long time. One day, one thousand copies of arrived at her home – she had no idea what she was going to do with them! She opened a little online shop, placed them to some pretty stores in her neighborhood and, one by one, she sold them all. Soon, publishing houses started to approach her to write books, but she was working on another idea of her own: a series about little people with BIG dreams. Each book tells the childhood story of one of the world’s female icons in an entertaining, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers, allowing them to identify with the characters in each story.
Amy Blackwell is a painter, printmaker, knitter, maker, writer, reader and is very fond of pancakes.
Amy is based in the midlands and has a small studio space at backlit in Nottingham – this is where the magic (doodling/printing/bad singing) happens. She’s inspired by the weird and wonderful, clashing colors, the natural world, history, fashion and folklore. Amy paints, prints and draws and has done so (to varying levels of success) since day one.
Cachetejack are Nuria Bellver and Raquel Fanjul, a Spanish freelance illustration duo with a nomadic lifestyle working together since 2011.
Their illustration universe is full of colors, energy, humour and irony. The hand drawn work of Cachetejack takes a fresh and unique style working in a variety of mediums, including—but not limited to—books, magazines, newspapers, clothing, drawing, painting, walls and illustration.
Cachetejack combines reality with a quirky point of view to create situations and environments closer to the viewer.
Both born in January 1988 but belonging to different zodiac signs and different regions of Spain. Nuria and her Valencia roots and Raquel and her Aragon-Asturias roots mix together to bring to life irrevent and playfulness honouring all their ancestors.
Sophie Beer (née Blackhall-Cain) is an award-winning illustrator/author living in Brisbane, Australia.
She completed a dual degree in Law and Creative Industries with distinction at Queensland University of Technology but found the whole law thing unutterably dull and now works primarily in children’s and editorial illustration. She is perpetually astounded that she has somehow hoodwinked people into paying her money to draw all day long. Revelling in colour, shape and texture, she lives by one simple rule: art should never be boring. As a writer, her work has appeared in Frankie Magazine and The Big Issue.
When she’s not illustrating and writing, she thinks a lot about plants, animals, music, books, and equality.
Winner of the 2016 SCBWI Penguin/Random House Portfolio award.