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Harlem's Little Blackbird


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About the Author

REN E WATSON has worked as a teaching-artist for more than 10 years, teaching creative writing and theater to elementary, middle, and high school students. She also uses writing and drama therapy to work with youth and adults. Renee lives in New York, NY.


Starred Review, Booklist, June 2012:
"With a text that stylistically sings yet is packed with information, the book introduces a woman who, though part of the Harlem Renaissance, is not well remembered by history."

K-Gr 3-While there are no recordings of her voice, singer Mills left a lasting mark in other ways-most notably with her efforts to bring attention to rising black performers and her compassion for the sick and poor. Born in 1896, she became known for her lovely voice and energetic stage presence as a child. Yet even with the rave reviews she received, she endured painful acts of prejudice. Her friends were refused entry to a theater in Washington, DC, to watch young Mills sing and dance, and later, when she was invited to perform in London, white passengers on the ship refused to share the dining room with her and her entourage. Mills was feisty, refusing to perform unless her guests could watch the show, and she turned down the chance to be the first black woman to perform in the Ziegfeld Follies in favor of joining shows that gave young black performers their chance to shine on stage. There's a cheerful, singsong quality to Watson's writing, but it doesn't diminish the impact of racism in Mills's life. Robinson utilizes cut paper and ink in rich earth tones to create a folk-art style that's audacious and warm, much like the performer herself. This is a wonderful book for introducing a trailblazer in entertainment and equality.-Alyson Low, Fayetteville Public Library, AR (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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