I found this beautiful book in the biography section of The Bookies... Denver's premiere children's (and teacher's) book store. Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People is a wonderfully illustrated book by Bonnie Christensen. The story of Guthrie's life brings new meaning to the songs he sings.
As we read, we learn about his life. Details from his hardscrabble life in Oklahoma during the Great Depression until his adult life on Mermaid Avenue near Coney Island. I love the way Christensen lets us in on the lyrics of Guthrie's most famous song... and the lines from several others. He was a singer's songwriter!
I love the that we learn that Guthrie began singing because he "...heard the songs that swept across the prairie wind and rain songs, thunder rumbling, and lightning crackling songs." From his childhood filled with song... to the mental illness of his mother following the tragic death of his sister in a fire... to the Merchant Marines... to his own children... to his singing behind the New York Public Library... Christensen sets forth a wonderful tribute to this singer/songwriter. I love the time line of his life in the back of the book.
Guthrie sang "Dust Bowl" ballads on the radio, many based on the old time country music his father sang and the hymns his mother played on the piano. His life as a performer illustrated his hope that his songs would help people feel better about their lives, their social situations, their hopes, and their dreams.
Children love the song "This Land is Your Land" and this tribute to Guthrie is the perfect accompaniment to the song. It's one of those books that just feels good in your hands when you pick it up off the shelf!