RESPECT: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul

S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2020. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534452282.
PreS-Gr 3–Weatherford, using rhyming couplets to explain important words from Aretha Franklin’s life (Detroit, groove, proud, and humble) as she chronicles the Queen of Soul’s childhood, her rising stardom, and her political activism. Readers who are craving in-depth details about Franklin can turn to the author’s note or other sources, but this book is not a meticulous biography. Rather, Weatherford presents a powerful celebration of the legendary singer that offers snapshots of major life events. Morrison’s colorful paintings pulse with energy, and every page is dynamic. The interplay between the deceptively simple narrative and Morrison’s illustrations is pitch-perfect. For example, the pages for “Detroit” (the family moves from Memphis, TN) and “Strife” (Barbara Franklin leaves the family after her husband’s infidelity) mirror each other to powerful effect: The family stands before a large tree to “put down roots” in each spread, but Barbara is absent in the artwork for “Strife.” This beautiful picture book biography packs an emotional punch that is as compelling as the timeless songs that Franklin made famous.
VERDICT Purchase this luscious, lyrical book for all nonfiction collections.

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