Tag Archives: women in music

Little People Big Dreams: Josephine Baker

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Agathe Sorlet 

For ages: 4-8 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Biography, Historical Figure, Musician, Women in Music, Trailblazer, Segregation, Racism, Activism, Modern Black Freedom Struggle, WWII. 

Summary: Josephine was a born performer, and found her fame dancing on a chorus line in New York City.  Due to ongoing segregation and general racist American society, she moved to France to work on a new show.  Josephine became incredibly famous, becoming the first African-American woman to star in a film.  She also adopted a bunch of animals and a dozen children!  During WWII, Josephine became a spy in the French Resistance.  She’s really just an overall badass. Josephine eventually moved back to the States and became engaged in activism for the Modern Black Freedom Struggle.

We love Josephine and are so glad this book exists that also talks about all of her achievements besides being an amazing performer!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª 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.

50.jpgAgathe Sorlet is an illustrator based in Paris, France!

Little People Big Dreams: Ella Fitzgerald

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Bàrbara Alca

For ages: 4-7 years

Language: English 

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Historical Figures, Women in Music, Musicians, Trailblazers, Biography, Black Culture & Identity. 

Summary: Ella was a young girl fascinated with performing and music.  When she was 15, her mother died and radically changed her life.  Running away from a reform school, she began performing.  Two years later Ella won a contest at a nightclub and was discovered by Chick Webb, a big name in jazz at the time.  This jumpstarted her career, turning her into the First Lady of Song, as she is now known!

This is a basic overview of the prolific singer that is Ella Fitzgerald, and a good book for an introduction to the subject.  We really love the timeline in the back of the book with the photos of Ella throughout her career.  This book, like the other books in the series, is adorable!

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª 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.

DeHda4TXUAAg0LNBàrbara Alca is an “extremely beautiful and enthusiastic Graphic Designer, Comic Artist and Illustrator based in Barcelona.

I make my own zines, work as a freelance illustrator for press such as El País, Ajuntament de Palma, El Jueves, Revista Cactus, and for editorial projects with Planeta, Alba Editorial and Sapristi.

Most of my work is mixed media, hand drawn lines with digital colouring.

I have a dark sense of humour, but I also love lace and bows which results in an eclectic style.”

Little People Big Dreams: Dolly Parton

Written by: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara

Illustrated by: Daria Solak

For ages: 4 years and up

Language: English

Topics Covered: Historical Figure, Musical Artist, Women in Music, Biography, Philanthropy, Feminist. 

Summary: Dolly Parton is a human that we do not deserve, she is such a gem!  This book follows the story of her life for a young reader, from a young girl with 11 siblings to being one of the most well-known musical artists of all time.

Dolly started singing young, and was working steadily on radio when she was 10.  She became incredibly well-known and toured extensively by herself in her signature big hair and sparkly dresses.  Something we love about Dolly is how much she sticks true to herself and wears whatever she wants, no matter what else anyone says (even if it’s derogatory).  She continually champions the LGBTQ community and even has her own theme park in Tennessee, Dollywood!  Something else she has done to give back to her community is the Imagination Library, which sends monthly books for free to children who sign up.  Dolly continues to inspire and perform to this day, because she’s a complete badass.

This book was sent in consideration of the Best Books of 2019 list by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books (an imprint of Quarto), but all opinions are our own!

About the Author & the Illustrator:

maria-isabel-sanchez-vegara-2Mª 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.

daria-solak_1_origDaria Solak is a proud 90s kid. She studied graphic design at Art Academy in Warsaw and Bologna.  Daria is a full-time girl and illustrator, living in London by choice.  Daria is addicted to crayons, coffee and children books*

*(and following dogs on social media)

Q&A with the Alphabet Rockers

Happy Tuesday!  We typically would wait until Saturday to do Q&A’s but during our Week of Music anything can happen!  Can you tell just how exciting our lives are? Anyways, jokes about our thrilling lives aside, we are more than excited to be able to bring you more information about The Alphabet Rockers.  This dynamic duo is the driving force behind a myriad of great music and social justice action.  Hope you enjoy our chat as much as we did!

The Tiny Activist: Introduce yourself/your organization!

AboutAlphabetRockers-PhotobyKristin-Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

Alphabet Rockers: We are cofounders – Kaitlin McGaw and Tommy Soulati Shepherd – and we’ve been making hip hop as an Alphabet Rockers crew since 2007. Coming together in Oakland at that time, we were excited to make fun music for young families that enhanced learning but we’ve grown with the times. The learning we lift up in our music is no longer ABC’s and tying shoes- it’s gender justice for trans and non-binary kids, it’s Black liberation and joy, it’s the beauty of migration and welcoming immigrants…it’s a world where we can all be free. We bring this music to 50 schools across the country each year, to libraries and to big stages like the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in DC and the Kennedy Center in NYC.

TTA: What are you passionate about?

AR: Creating a world free from racial and gender bias. Youth activism. And hip hop.

TTA: Tell us about a project you’re currently working on!iconsquare39029970-C4E0-4666-81EEBD46B0F69D49

AR: Right now, it’s all about The Love. Our new album is currently on the GRAMMY ballot (keeping fingers crossed for a second nomination), and we have big shows lined up to premiere the album including the Oakland Life is Living Festival and SF Jazz this fall. After a year bringing together almost 60 guests artists and centering representational LGBTQ+ voices, we can’t wait to give it all away. We say “The Love is for You” because this album lifts up so many perspectives. Whether you are listening as an ally, a trans child, a queer artist or a two-spirit activist waiting to hear your native land honored, we’ve got you. YOU are the love.

TTA: How can people support you on your journey?

Screen Shot 2019-11-03 at 9.44.50 AMAR: Subscribe to our So Get Me podcast for families making change. Listen to it anywhere you get your podcasts and you’ll hear our young Rockers share their activism- like The Butterfly Effect project lead by Lily (10) and Kaia (11). They have rallied folks to make and display 15,000 butterflies to symbolize each child being held in a detention center at the border. You can hear them on our podcast along with activist authors Kate Schatz and Innosanto Nagara who are both fans of our music. Also, download The Love. Really listen. Let it move you into action.

TTA: What book was your favorite in 2019 so far?81fUyRgp9LL

AR: We got a sneak peek of Innosanto Nagara’s M is for Movement that comes out
November 2019 and we LOVED it! Wait ’til you see the gorgeous artwork and dig into
the story of one child born at the rise of a movement.

TTA: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

AR: This year we welcome a new baby into the Rocker family (Kaitlin just had her second!) so that’s a huge bright spot- reminding us what all this is for and expanding our crew. Also making room for our young rockstars to shine on stage- Lil’ Tommy (11), Kali (11), Maia (10) and Lily (10) are bringing their voices, ideas and spirits forward more everyday. Just looking forward to bringing our art to the world during this particular time in history. When they throw shade…we throw shine.

2017 AlphabetRockers_Photo2 -PhotoBySteveJennings
Photo By Steve Jennings

Current badass work The Alphabet Rockers

are doing with other groups:

On Saturday, November 16th from 3-4pm at Lake Merritt Amphitheater in Oakland, The Butterfly Effect will host a rally featuring youth speakers and performances by the Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers, and Destiny Arts Center youth. Nancy Ukai, a Japanese American whose family are internment camp survivors and who is an activist with Tsuru for Solidarity, will also speak at the event. On display will be 15,000 butterflies created by the community as a sign of friendship and support to the children in detention. 

Screen Shot 2019-11-03 at 9.53.34 AM

To join the effort, and for more information about The Butterfly Effect,

visit https://butterflyeffectmigration.org

Youth are available for interviews.

2019b- Alphabet Rockers Creators - Photo by Kristin Chalmers
Photo by Kristin Chalmers

Stay connected with The Alphabet Rockers!

Alphabet Rockers Website

Instagram: @alphabetrockers #TheLOVE

Libba; The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

Written by: Laura Veirs

Illustrated by: Tatyana Fazlalizadeh

For ages: 4-10 years

Language: English

Topics Covered: POC-Centric Narratives, Women in Music, Historical Figures.

Summary: Libba was a young girl that heard music everywhere.  Sometimes she snuck into her older brother’s room and played his guitar.  He was right-handed, and Libba was left-handed so she turned the guitar upside down and backwards to play.  One day he moved out, so Libba did extra chores to buy one of her own.  Soon, she was writing songs and wasn’t even a teenager yet!  Unfortunately, life got ahold of Libba and she stopped playing music for years.  One day when she was much older, she found a lost girl in a store and helped the girl find her mother.  Her mother turned out to be Ruth Crawford Seeger, and began to work as their housekeeper.  Libba loved the musical family’s home filled with children and musicians!  One evening she picked up a guitar, upside-down and backwards, and began to play once again.  Suddenly, everyone in the home was listening to Libba sing the songs she wrote so many years ago.  The Seeger family helped Libba begin to tour playing her music, and she became very successful even recording music when she was in her eighties!

In the back of the book, there is an extensive Author’s Note with more information about Libba’s life and fame.  This book is great for young children learning about a variety of topics- people of color, musicians, strong women, so many more!

Reflection Questions:

  • What is an instrument that you’ve always wanted to play?
  • Do you know anyone that plays that instrument?
  • Do you think Libba missed playing guitar when she wasn’t playing it?
  • What is something you love to do more than anything else?

Continuing the Conversation:

  • Listen to some of Libba’s music!  What do you like about it?
  • Learn about more musicians from Libba’s era.  Do you think they sound similar to Libba?
  • Visit a music store that repairs instruments.  Learn about how different instruments are made, and how they get fixed when needed.

About the Author & the Illustrator:

laura-veirs
Photo by Jason Quigley

Laura Veirs is an American singer-songwriter. She is known for her folk/alternative country records and live performances. She has recorded over 10 albums, including her 2011 album Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs Sings Folk Songs for Children. The album presented mostly traditional songs, and featured an array of guest musicians, including Colin Meloy, Jim James and Bela Fleck. Tumble Bee won a Parents’ Choice Award in 2012. In early 2018 Chronicle Books published her first picture book, Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten. It’s a story about folk music legend Elizabeth Cotten (aka “Libba”) and was illustrated by NYC-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. Libba was a Junior Library Guild selection and received the Parents’ Choice Award.

Tatyana FazlalizadehTatyana Fazlalizadeh is a Black/Iranian visual artist and Oklahoma City native. She is a painter whose work ranges from the gallery to the streets, using visual art to address the daily oppressive experiences of marginalized people through beautifully drawn and painted portraits. Her street art series, Stop Telling Women to Smile, can be found on walls across the globe. She is currently the inaugural Public Artist in Residence for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, a year long residency that will present the experiences of anti-black racism and sexual harassment experienced by New Yorkers through public art. Tatyana has been profiled by the New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, the New Yorker, Time Magazine, and listed as one of Brooklyn’s most influential people by Brooklyn Magazine. She is a 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient. She has lectured at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Brooklyn Museum, New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, several universities including Stanford, Brown, USC, and Pratt Institute. Tatyana’s work can currently be seen on Spike Lee’s Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, for which she is also the show’s Art Consultant. She is working on her first book, Stop Telling Women to Smile, with Seal Press. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.