Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing
Author: Leda Schubert
Illustrator: Raúl Colón
Published June 13th, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press
There was nobody like Pete Seeger.
Wherever he went, he got people singing.
With his head thrown back
and his Adam s apple bouncing,
picking his long-necked banjo
or strumming his twelve-string guitar,
Pete sang old songs,
new words to old songs,
and songs he made up.
In this tribute to legendary musician and activist Pete Seeger, author Leda Schubert highlights major musical events in Mr. Seeger’s life as well important moments of his fight against social injustice. From singing sold-out concerts to courageously standing against the McCarthy-era finger-pointing, Pete Seeger’s life is celebrated in this book.
Praise for Listen:
★“Schubert and Colón ably demonstrate one of their book’s final assertions: ‘there really was nobody like Pete Seeger.’”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“A rousing tribute to a singular musician and activist who ‘walked the talk.’” —Publishers Weekly
“This inspiring picture book biography about one of America’s greatest folk heroes is sure to get a new generation of children singing.” —School Library Journal
“An inspiring and heartfelt tribute to, as Schubert calls him, a ‘true American hero.’” —Horn Book
About the Creators:
Leda Schubert holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults and was a core faculty member until 2012. She is the author of many award-winning titles, including The Princess of Borscht, Ballet of the Elephants, and Monsieur Marceau, winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. Leda lives in Plainfield, Vermont, with her husband and two dogs. To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit ledaschubert.com.
Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including Draw!; the New York Times-bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.
Kellee’s Review: Schubert’s narrative of Seeger’s life is so lyrical and poetic–it is a song accompanied by beautifully textured, light illustrations that bring the biography to life. I can tell that Schubert is a fan of Seeger because she told his story with gentleness and love honoring a man that is truly an American hero.
The more I read about Pete Seeger, the more I am intrigued. I have heard about Pete Seeger my whole life, but it wasn’t until I read Stand Up and Sing by Susanna Reich that I truly learned about HIM outside of just knowing his music. I truly wish that Pete Seeger was still around to help us in our current time. His story has shown me that one person can make a difference, that good can win and be honored, and that music can bring people together. I loved learning even more about Seeger through Schubert’s picture book.
Ricki’s Review: Like Kellee, I didn’t know a lot about Pete Seeger until I read this book. I love reading texts that teach me more about a person. I didn’t realize that he traveled with Woody Guthrie! Too cool! Pete Seeger was a social activist, and his songs urge us to take action. This book will encourage readers to learn more about the singers that they listen to.
The author and illustrator bring great life to this book. It is very clear that they were inspired by his music, and the book truly comes alive. This is a book that teaches kids about an important man in our history and the power of music. It also reveals a lot of information about American History. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions: A fabulous curriculum guide can be found here created by Leigh Courtney, Ph.D. and includes discussion questions and activities.
Example discussion questions:
- Pete Seeger said, “Participation. That’s what’s gonna save the human race.” What do you think that means?
- Pete Seeger found himself in trouble with the government at one point in his life. Which group questioned him? Why were they interested in him?
- Encourage students to study the illustrations in Listen paying particular attention to the drawings of people in the story. Discuss what the people’s actions and expressions tell you about Pete Seeger’s impact on those who listened to his music.
- Many view Pete Seeger as an American hero. Discuss why people might regard Seeger as an important figure in American history. Read aloud President Obama’s statement about Pete Seeger, made upon the musician’s death, found in the final timeline entry at the back of the book.
Some examples of activities include cause and effect, research, vocabulary, and some fun music activities.
Resources: Leda Schubert provides some great links to recordings and videos of Pete Seeger here.
Read This If You Love: Stand Up and Sing! by Suanna Reich, When Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing the book for review!**