Like a Bird:The Art of the American Slave Song by Cynthia Grady


There is a lot to learn and love in the text of this book, if you can tear yourself away from the fascinating illustrations by Michele Wood. Each page is like a separate painting in an exhibit, each a small spiritual hit in itself. I spent a fair amount of time on each page trying to figure out how she managed to bring the piece together.

In Like a Bird:The Art of the American Slave Song, Cynthia Grady (a former librarian at the Sidwell School in Washington, DC, which the Obama girls attend), has researched the history and culture of famous spirituals from the slave era. Adjacent to the information is the music itself, making this book particularly useful in evoking the era through the senses. (Anyone remember whole language from the eighties? I have still yet to hear a better pedagogical theory…)

Like  A Bird is aimed at middle-graders, though parents and teachers of younger children can certainly adapt its presentation for their audiences. At 40 immaculate pages, it will be published by Lerner in September.


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