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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stand Up and Sing!:Pete Seeger, Folk Music and the Path to Justice. Written by Suzanna Reich and illustrated by Adam Gustavson. Bllomsbury, Raincoast. 2017. $23.99 ages 10 and up

"At college Pete couldn't stop talking about workers' strikes and unions, the civil war in Spain, and the Nazis in Germany. He talked so much that the didn't do his homework. He lost his scholarship ... "
And finally for today, here is Susanna Reich's book about Pete Seeger and his music.

In his foreword, Peter Yarrow says this:

"In these times, there is so much that divides us, so much greed, narcissism, and other terrible threats to the dream of creating a caring, just, and peaceful society -  and to the survival of our planet. What Pete taught us was how to keep on keepin' on, how to keep on singing, how to not become cynical, and how to turn challenge and adversity into greater determination and love for one another. That was Pete."

Now is the time to teach our kids about people like Pete, who stand up for their beliefs and do the work it takes to make things better. This book opens with Pete's singing, and an invitation for his audience to join him in song and harmony. It is classic Pete Seeger.

Beginning with his birth and early childhood, the author moves quickly to his time at university, and to his love of the folk music he had heard while traveling with his family in that early life. His support for the downtrodden and worry about those who were being treated poorly led to his leaving university, and finding satisfying work with Alan Lomax in the music industry while also playing music every chance he got.

"He played all night, and he played all day, and after a while you wanted to ship him
off somewhere," said Alan's sister Bess."

His music is a tradition that has influenced many other musicians and listeners around the world. We always shared Pete's songs in the classrooms I taught, and kids loved to hear those songs as much as Pete loved playing them.

The text is dense and provides a very clear look at Pete's life and legacy. Older children will learn about civil rights, poverty, war, and taking care of the world we live in. Adam Gustavson uses 'gouache, watercolor, colored pencil and/or oil on paper, with little bits of Adobe Photoshop' to deliver a close and personal look at the man whose down to earth ways, whose love of music and its power, whose strong stands for a better world, proved his mettle time and again.

"A clean river, a peaceful planet, a living wage - as Pete got older, he continued to sing, to protest, and to inspire people to speak out for their beliefs ... Pete passed away in 2014, but his work isn't done. For in times of war, the world needs peace. In times of hatred, the world needs love. In times of injustice, the world needs truth. And wherever people gather in the name of freedom, they find strength and courage in song."


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