Harlem's Little Blackbird
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Harlem's Little Blackbird

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4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  170 ratings  ·  58 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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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...more
Allie Tinnes
Text-to-self: In this book Florence Mills goes from being a daughter of a slave living in a tiny house, to be an international singer and performer. This reminds me of my mom. She grew up in South Omaha, her mother was an alcoholic, and they were very poor. Not she is an Elementary School counselor and just finished her Master's degree. They both came from nothing, and turned their lives around.

Text-to-text: This book reminds me of the book Wonder. In Harlem's Little Blackbird Florence experienc...more
Emma
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...more
Jessica
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
Angela
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!
Ann
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.
Kristen
Beautiful, sad story of a person I had never heard of. My favorite kind of biography.
Linda
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
Tasha
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
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.

Earl
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!
Emily
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.
Maureen
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
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.
Nancy
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
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.
Zendora
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
Mrs. Knott
Story about Florence Mills, famous performer who performed at the start of the 1900s. She was well known for her singing and dancing ability.
Abby Johnson
This picture book biography of black performer Florence Mills is illustrated with colorful, cut-paper spreads and covers the entirety of Mills's career. It's a nice compliment to the other picture book biography of Mills published this year (BABY FLO), which concentrates on her childhood. Use them both together for a complete picture of this little known (even though she was very famous in her time!) woman who helped to pave the way for many black performers.
Rakisha
Beautifully told and illustrated picture book biography about one of not so well known jazz & blues singers of the early 1900s. My daughter, who is 8 and in the second grade, read it on her own and enjoyed it. It touches on the racism of that time, and stresses the importance of standing your ground in the face of indignity. Children who like this book, might enjoy the picture book When Grandmama Sings by Margaree King Mitchell
Kris Odahowski
Illustrations which invite young readers to read more are provided by Robinson, a special book which gives primary source material to introduce Harlem Renaissance history and the power of stardom. This book masterfully delivers a very complete picture of a talented woman who died too young. The singer was also a promoter of civil rights and humanitarian efforts. This book is available or checkout at the Gadsden County Public Library.
Camille
I picked this one up initially because I was drawn to the cut paper/collage illustrations. But after I read it I was glad to learn about Florence Mills, too. I think this book is a good overview of a life and makes me want to learn more about her and the Harlem Renaissance. Hopefully it will also inspire further reading in its intended audience. I'd pair this with Jazz Age Josephine for a school-aged audience.
Jim Erekson
It was great to learn about a lesser-known historical figure in this myth-building picturebook. Like other well-known biographies of American figures, this one focuses on a 'from humble beginnings all the way to the world stage' narrative. When looking at images of Florence Mills on Google Images, the illustrations play on the strength of her eyes in the stylized paper cut-outs.
Ashly Roman
Such a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations. It led to further discussion between my 7 year old son an I about Florence Mills and the Harlem Renaissance. We used his I-Pad to look up Duke Ellington's song "Black Beauty" which he wrote for her. I love these type of books because everyone no matter how old can learn something new about someone or something amazing.
Lu Benke
I liked the end papers. Again, I found myself irritated by the illustrations--flat, prosaic, and no real addition to the story--for me. The story seemed written in a too-sweet voice. The overall effect was that I felt like I was trying to be convinced to be so very impressed. With a different more understated treatment, I might have been.
Sarah
I enjoy these picture book biographies, even though I rarely can get a kid interested in them. I liked this because Florence Mills' life was short so the book didn't feel like it was glossing over too many details. I would have wished there was an actual picture of her somewhere in the book, though I did like the illustrations.
Sarah Kelly
I enjoyed this book and can't wait for my daughter to get to an age of understanding this book. It is important to me to teach my daughter to embrace the differences in people and I think that Florence Mills was a pivotal piece in race relations. This story was simple and to the point with great illustrations.
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Goodreads Librari...: Combine. 41 112 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
More about Renée Watson...
What Momma Left Me A Place Where Hurricanes Happen This Side of Home Rethinking Popular Culture and Media Clinical Trials Explained: A Guide to Clinical Trials in the Nhs for Healthcare Professionals

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