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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
This breezy intro to Aretha Franklin's life and career includes more biographical detail in an author's note at the back, along with a list of her biggest hits. Kids may learn some vocabulary and spelling as each spread highlights a spelled-out theme like "B-L-E-S-S-E-D" on a picture of young Aretha praying, or "V-O-I-C-E" when she's in the recording studio, or "P-R-O-U-D" at Obama's inauguration when she sings "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Kids can read the messages on picket signs to understand what protesters in the civil rights movement were fighting for.
Use your God-given gifts. Stand up for what's right.
Positive Role Models
Aretha is a positive role model for kids and grown-ups. Her parents split up and we learn in an author's note that her mom died when she was young, but she went on to greatness and never gave up. Her dad was flawed (his infidelity caused her mom to leave), but he was a great source of support for Aretha both personally and professionally.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Frank Morrison, won the 2021 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. This vibrant picture book uses dynamic art and spare rhyming couplets to effectively tell Aretha's story, from learning gospel music from her parents, playing the piano, and recording her first album at 14 to singing for President Barack Obama's inauguration. It's a wonderful tribute to a great artist. An author's note gives more biographical deatial, and there's also a list of Franklin's biggest hits for kids to check out.
Is It Any Good?
This dazzling take on Franklin's life tells her story in gorgeous paintings and spare couplets that sweep readers up in a world of love, music, joy, civil rights activism, and religious spirit. R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul features many close-ups, like of her strong hands playing the piano or her intense face as she sings at a microphone. The backdrop of her era is well done, too, with civil rights demonstrations portrayed in black-and-white, in stark contrast to the book's other vibrant colors, with famous figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Harry Belafonte shown but not mentioned in the text.
The author keeps up the motif used in her famous song "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" by spelling-out themes on the spreads like "B-L-E-S-S-E-D" on a picture of young Aretha praying, or "V-O-I-C-E" when she's in the recording studio, or "P-R-O-U-D" at Obama's inauguration, where she sings "My Country 'Tis of Thee." This is a poetic, artistic tribute to the Queen of Soul.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.