Michele Wood - The Official Site
Like A Bird: The Art of the American Slave Song / Signed Copy
Like a Bird brings together text, music, and illustrations by Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator Michele Wood to convey the rich meaning behind thirteen of these powerful songs.
From School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—"Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart." These words by Frederick Douglass are offered in an endnote to provide context for the 13 spirituals included in this volume. Readers will learn how the book began, with Wood's acrylic paintings inspired by the songs; the author then studied the paintings and researched the songs before writing the text. Each spread features a painting on the recto and one or two paragraphs of text along with the music and verses on the verso. There is also a full-spread painting of a group of slaves riding a metaphorical railroad conducted by Harriet Tubman preceding the spread for the song "Get on Board—the Gospel Train," which also includes an archival photo of Tubman. Some of the songs will be familiar, such as "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," while others, like "Ain't Gonna Study War No More," "Go Down, Moses," and "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen," will resonate with older readers. The vibrant paintings often incorporate quilting motifs and historical events. Original lyrics are featured in the back matter. An archival photo of the Jubilee Singers of Fisk University in Nashville, TN, who popularized the spiritual as a musical form in the 1870s, appears in the introduction. VERDICT This is an excellent resource for music and art teachers as well as for social studies and U.S. history lessons.—Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools
Booklist: "Thirteen spirituals are featured here ... Each paragraph invites readers to notice themes in the paintings that are repeated in the lyrics and raises questions to encourage critical engagement with the text. Wood's gorgeous paintings are full of saturated colors and evocative imagery...."
Kirkus - "An important work that gives new life to old and important songs."
School Library Journal (starred review) - "This is an excellent resource for music and art teachers as well as for social studies and U.S. history lessons."