Black Culture & Identity
Modern Black Freedom Struggle/Civil Rights Movement
Traci N. Todd & Christian Robinson
It’s safe to say that we all love Nina Simone right? Her powerful voice and even more powerful lyrics gives me shivers when listening and I would definitely choose to time travel back to see her perform. Nina brings that power to younger audiences, and doesn’t hold back when talking about the mountains and valleys of her career and the political events surrounding the Black community’s ongoing struggle for liberation.
Traci N. Todd has taken a biographical picture book narrative to the next level and Christian Robinson has beautifully integrated the events that Nina sang about into scenes within her piano, which is truly just a phenomenal idea and supports how inextricably intertwined music and politics are. Todd has given a detailed account of Eunice’s (and later Nina’s) early life and musical inspirations but doesn’t hold back when talking about the overt racism that she experienced. Something I find especially powerful is how nothing is sugarcoated, life wasn’t always rosy. But the drive and sheer force of will that Nina embodied in her every action and performance comes across on every page.
After the story, there are pages of back matter with more information about Nina and the way she used her voice for protest. There are direct quotes, comparisons to present-day movements, and more beautiful portraits by Robinson. Truly, this book is a sight to behold and any music lover should be ordering this immediately!
This book was published by Penguin Kids, but was given to me by a friend. Thanks, Kinsey!
Traci N. Todd
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 is an illustrator, author, animator, and designer based in Oakland, California. He was born in Los Angeles and grew up in a small one-bedroom apartment with his brother, two cousins, aunt, and grandmother. Drawing became a way to make space for himself and to create the kind of world he wanted to see. He studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts and would later work with the Sesame Workshop and Pixar Animation Studios before becoming an illustrator of books for children. The Christian Robinson for Target collection, released in August 2021, includes more than 70 items across home and apparel for kids and baby. His books include the #1 New York Times bestseller Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor, and the Newbery Medal, and the #1 New York Times bestseller The Bench, written by Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex. His solo projects include Another, which was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2019, and the New York Times bestseller You Matter. His latest collaboration with Matt de la Peña, Milo Imagines The World, received six starred reviews and was a #1 Indie Bestseller and a New York TImes bestseller. He looks forward to one day seeing the aurora borealis.