for Libba by Laura Veirs and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh
As a child in rural North Carolina in the early 20 th century, Libba Cotten “heard music everywhere.” She borrowed her brother’s guitar when he wasn’t home and played it upside-down and backwards, because she was left-handed. “Nobody else played that way, but it was the way that felt right to Libba.” Libba composed the song “Freight Train” around age 11, inspired by the sounds of trains on nearby railroad tracks. “But even trains get derailed.” Libba stopped playing to work and raise her daughter. She was a grandmother working at a department store in Washington, D.C., when she met musician Ruth Crawford Seeger, who hired Libba as a housekeeper. When she picked up a guitar again, Libba impressed the Seegers and their musician friends. The Seeger family helped promote Libba’s music, “[b]ut it was Libba’s perseverance, her love of music, and her belief in herself that gave the world her voice.” An understated, concise yet lyrical text is followed by a concluding note, which touches more on the realities of Libba’s experience as an African American woman, and sources. Libba’s story is warmly illustrated in softly-shaded graphite art with digital color. (Ages 5–9)
CCBC Choices 2019. © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019. Used with permission.
Elizabeth Cotten was only a little girl when she picked up a guitar for the first time. It wasn't hers (it was her big brother's), and it wasn't strung right for her (she was left-handed). But she flipped that guitar upside down and backwards and taught herself how to play it anyway. By age eleven, she'd written "Freight Train," one of the most famous folk songs of the twentieth century. And by the end of her life, people everywhere-from the sunny beaches of California to the rolling hills of England-knew her music. This lyrical, loving picture book from popular singer-songwriter Laura Veirs and debut illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh tells the story of the determined, gifted, daring Elizabeth Cotten-one of the most celebrated American folk musicians of all time.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.