This picture book for children 4 to 8 is recommended to readers of all ages as it illuminates the life of Nina Simone (1933-2003), the amazing African American musician. The book also has a five-page re-hash written for adults at the end. The author, Traci N. Todd, is an award-winning African American author of many books, including the ABCs of Black History, a New York Times best-seller. The illustrator, Christian Robinson, is an African American artist who, in 2016, was named both a Caldecott Medal Honoree and a Coretta Scott King Award Honoree for Last Stop on Market Street. This book tells the inspiring story of Eunice Waymon, who was born and raised in the town of Tryon, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Her mother was a preacher, and her father played the piano. At the age of 3 (!) Eunice began playing at her mother’s church. A white woman who employed her mother as a domestic worker, convinced a white friend who taught music lessons to take Eunice on as a student. When Eunice graduated from high school, her music teacher helped her apply and be accepted at the famous Julliard School of Music in New York City. When she graduated, the only work in music that Eunice Waymon could find was in clubs where alcohol was served, so she adopted the stage name of Nina Simone out of fear that her mother would not approve. Soon, her music became inspired by and a reflection of the Civil Rights Movement and earned a nation-wide audience.
New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2021. 56 pages illustrated by Christian Robinson. 8.75” X 10.75” hardback in dust jacket.