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Harlem's Little Blackbird
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Harlem's Little Blackbird

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  247 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Zora and Langston. Billie and Bessie. Eubie and Duke. If the Harlem Renaissance had a court, they were its kings and queens. But there were other, lesser known individuals whose contributions were just as impactful, such as Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bi ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published October 23rd 2012 by Random House Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2012)
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Text to Self: Florence Mills grew up in a “teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy house” in Washington, D.C. Her mother sang spirituals to calm her fears during thunder storms. Part of a famous spiritual was quoted in the book. This is Horatio Spafford’s song titled It is Well with My Soul:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

I grew up in a “teeny-tiny, itsy-bitsy house” in Upland, Californi
A perfect marriage of words and mixed media illustrations. Harlem's Little Blackbird sings! Picture book biographies are fast becoming one of my favorite genres due to books like this.
Jennifer Bane
Text to self: In this story there is a girl named Florence and she loves to sing and dance and I also love to sing and dance. I may not sing and dance as much as her or be as good as she is but the love of singing and dancing is there for both of us.
Text to text: This book has a few similarities to Laundry Day because in Laundry day there is a boy that finds a scarf and then climbs a building asking everyone if it is theirs or not. He tries very hard to return the scarf to its owner and tries to
Harlem's Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renée Watson is such a wonderful story about the dream of a little girl named Florence who was born at the turn of the twentieth century in Washington D.C. who had a beautiful singing voice and a wonderful dancing talent. She was no stranger to racism, and when she moved to New York City the stages became bigger and the offers of making her an international star were greater. But Florence would turn it down to perform in other shows that ...more
Tiffanie-ann Bucheit
This book is a biography of Florence Mills and African American singer born in 1896. The book tells the story of how Mills started singing with her mother who was a former slave. The story starts with Florence breaking into the musical world and singing for white crowds. Mills spent most of her adult life trying to change the perceptions of African Americans by only performing in shows that gave unknown black singers and actors a change to perform on stage.

Text to text: This book reminds me of
I was deciding between The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend and Harlem's Little Blackbird for my jazz-themed Black History Month storytime, and I'm glad that I chose Harlem's Little Blackbird, because it's a little shorter, and I had kids younger than what I normally get at storytime, which some VERY short attention spans. It was kind of painful reading to them, actually, because of that, but that really has nothing to do with the book. Anyway, Harlem's Little Black ...more
A picture book biography recommended for introducing the Harlem Renaissance. This is the story of Florence Mills, a courageous and talented woman singing out for equal rights.

Don't skip the Author's Note. It's quite insightful on how the author gathered information in order to compose a biography of a performer whose voice and talents were never recorded.
Sharon Lawler
Although she possessed an unusual birdlike voice, it was never recorded for posterity, which may be a factor in her lack of notoriety. Many thanks to author Renee Watson and illustrator Christian Robinson for presenting her life through this picture book!
Alex Ferron
Florence Mills was a daughter of former slaves, she loved to sing from a young age. Florence became famous for her sweet, bird-like voice. This book touches on the highs and lows of Florence's career. It is a great read and is aimed at key stage 2.

This is an excellent book that can be used for black history month, children can build a fact file on florence, looking at the key stages in her life, they can also do a diary entry as her or one of her fans. Role play can also be used to act out some
Beautiful, sad story of a person I had never heard of. My favorite kind of biography.
Edward Sullivan
Lovely, affectionate portrait of Harlem Renaissance singer Florence Mills.
Born to former slaves, Florence Mills was one of the successful and famous entertainers before and during the Harlem Renaissance. She began being popular as a very young girl, from her singing and her kindnesses and sticking up both for her rights, and for others who needed support. Some of her experiences will be good entries into talk about courage and doing the right thing! The book adds another inspiring biography about someone we have previously known little. The illustrations by Christian ...more
This is a picture book biography of Florence Mills, a singer well-known during the Harlem Renaissance. It follows her from her childhood as the daughter of former slaves in a tiny house in Washington, DC. where she was always singing and dancing. She became known as a small girl with a big voice, but often faced racism and segregation when she was performing. She quickly learned to use her voice for activism as well as song. Florence became known not only across the nation but around the world f ...more
Christine Turner
Zora and Langston. Billie and Bessie. Eubie and Duke. If the Harlem Renaissance had a court, they were its kings and queens. But there were other, lesser known individuals whose contributions were just as impactful, such as Florence Mills. Born to parents who were former-slaves Florence knew early on that she loved to sing. And that people really responded to her sweet, bird-like voice. Her dancing and singing catapulted her all the way to the stages of 1920s Broadway where she inspired songs an ...more
A picture book biography of Florence Mills, a Harlem Renaissance era singer and dancer. Though she was never recorded, Florence had a huge impact on well known performers ranging from Duke Ellington to Lena Horne.

This book covers her upbringing, rise to fame, and the many challenges she faced as a person of color trying to share her gifts with the world.

Love the artwork (cut paper collage) that really shines a spotlight on its subject and makes it sparkle. Recommended for grades 2-4+.
Tishandra Mayfield
1. Born to slave parents, Florence knew early on that she loved to sing.

2. Her dancing and singing catapulted her all the way to the stges of Broadway where she inspired songs and even plays.

3. When Florence was offered the role of a lifetime from Ziegfeld himself, she chose to support all-black musicals instead.

This would be considered a diverse book and we would use this book when discussing black history.

Shanice Duncan
In Rene Watson'S "Harlem's Little Blackbird" Is the story of Florence Mills a young girl with a beautiful voice, who leaves her tiny house in DC and goes to New York and becomes a star. Mills experience racism in her quest to become the ultimate performer, and overcomes it with her powerful voice. the mix media illustrations relates to vibrant and musical them of the text wonderfully.
Excellent introduction to Florence Mills, an icon of the Harlem Renaissance whose voice is unknown to future generations. I found this, the fact that her voice was never recorded, to be amazing and am sure young children growing up in this age of technology will too. Beautiful artwork accompanies text that is sometimes dry, but still enlightening. Recommended.
A biography of a life whose talent is overshadowed only by her generosity, who used her vocal talents not only to stir souls with her songs but to speak out against injustice... Once you read Florence Mills' story, you'd wish there were some audio and video to go along with this picture book!
No recordings of her voice exist. No films showing her performances were recorded. How do we know about Florence's greatness? It is her peers reaction and respect for her. This lovely book lays out how she stood up for African Americans and used her voice and talent to awe audiences.
Sarah Herrington
What a great introduction to the Harlem Renaissance. This book tells the story of African American singer Florence Mills. I honestly didn't know her story and it was fascinating to learn along side my small people. We all enjoyed it immensely!
Andrea Sargent
THIS BOOK IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL - I LOVE THIS! The illustrations resemble folk art - the deep colors and warm browns are gorgeous. The text breaths life into Florence's life and allows young ears to bask in the melody of her soul. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!
I was not familiar with Florence Mills, a contemporary of Josephine Baker, so this was a simple introduction. The narrative could have used a bit more detail. But, Christian Robinson's mixed media collages on each page make this a masterpiece that I recommend.
I wanted to like this book, but something about it didn't quite flow right. I think the listing of accomplishments didn't include enough details. No matter what, it seems like Florence Mills did a lot for the African American community during her time and I'm glad this book was written to chronicle her contributions. The collage pictures were very detailed and enhanced the story line on each page. Ultimately this is the story of a girl who, with hard work and dedication, achieved her singing and ...more
I am grateful for books like Harlem's Little Blackbird. Until I read this lovely mixed-media picture book, I had never heard of Florence Mills even though she was born right here in Washington, DC.
Amy Rae
Lively illustrations accompany the well-told story of a near-forgotten member of the Harlem Renaissance. I loved the use of lyrics to help develop Florence Mills' character.
Way back about 100 years ago, a little girl name Florence Mills was learning to sing. Her mother used to sing around the house and Florence loved to join in. It is said that she had an amazing voice. So amazing, that she was asked to sing professionally when she was only a teenager. But things were different back then. You see, Florence was black and only whites were allowed in the theater. That didn’t change Florence’s mind about wanting to be a famous singer. She traveled around Europe and did ...more
Loved it! I'm getting really addicted to these gorgeous picture books about important figures in history. Keep 'em coming!
Amy Beth Stenson
While murph preferred the "dragonology" book given to him by my cousin Abe, I fell in love with Florence. What sweet and simple illustrations for a beautiful story. Love.
The thing that stands out in this book are the illustrations. They are simple collage, that I like on their own but for the telling of this story I didn't really like. Sorry Christian Robinson. There are so many unsung individuals in history and Florence Mills was one. Think of her as today's Beyoncé, in a pre civil rights world, with only other's memories praising her greatness, since there are no recordings of her work. I enjoyed learning about her, however I felt the book just didn't hit it's ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine. 41 113 Feb 01, 2013 10:46AM  
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Renée Watson is the author of the children’s picture book, A Place Where Hurricanes Happen (Random House, June 2010), which was featured on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her middle grade novel, What Momma Left Me debuted as the New Voice for 2010 in middle grade fiction by The Independent Children's Booksellers Association.

Renée’s one woman show, Roses are Red, Women are Blue, debuted at N
More about Renée Watson...
This Side of Home What Momma Left Me A Place Where Hurricanes Happen Jade Rethinking Popular Culture and Media

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