Rachel's Reviews > Becoming Billie Holiday

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford
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's review
Jan 09, 10

bookshelves: biography-and-memoirs, young-adult, verse-novels, coretta-scott-king
Read in January, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Beautifully illustrated and written verse free verse novel about singer Billie Holiday. I, like a lot of other people, did not know much about her other than she was a singer in the 30s/40s and sang that song about lynching called "Strange Fruit". I grew up listening to big band and swing, but I was never really exposed to her, but more to Ella Fitzgerald, since that is who my parents/grandmother listened to. Billie Holiday led a really hard life and she was constantly being abandoned by her parents, was raped as a young girl and went to reform school. This was all by the age of 15 and then she finally made it to Harlem and began singing for real, though her fame didn't come for awhile. I guess all the hardship and strife of her life made her really strong and determined to make a place for herself in the world. The back of the book features 21 biographies of other famous people mentioned in the book, so that teens have more of an idea of who they were. The author did her research well and her references were listed along with further reading/listening. The illustrations looked like pastels, but as it is described in the back of the book "Floyd Cooper's art for this book was created with a subtractive technique, using erasers to make shapes from a ground of paint. The shapes were then enhanced with mixed meda, mostly oil based, layered in a dry brush fashion."
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