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News & Reviews

The Musical Life of Julie Andrews



little bee books

(pub.9.5.2023) 40 pages

4-8 years

Author: Julie Hedlund

Illustrator: Ilaria Urbinati

Character: Julie Andrews


" Long before she starred in movies like The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and The Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews was a little girl struggling with her parents' divorce and the ravages of World War II.

To comfort her and fill her time during the London Blitz, her stepfather taught her to sing, and Julie found her voice-one of the most extraordinary singing voices of all time."

Tantalizing taste:

"As people cooked on portable stoves, sipped tea,

and huddled together, Ted strummed his guitar and sang.

Sharing music with her sheltering neighbors comforted Julie

and kept her mind off the danger.

Soon Julie's school closed due to the war.

To keep her busy, Ted taught her to sing.

They were all astonished to discover

that from this sprite of a girl sprang a voice

as pure and clear as a cloudless summer sky."

And something more: Julie Hedlund, in the Author's Note explains that "when I learned ... that Julie had lost her singing voice after a throat surgery, I was devastated. At the time, I was beginning my own career and working on finding my way in the world, my own voice. I couldn't imagine the world deprived of Julie's.

Luckily, Julie began using her voice in a new way - writing children's books...

When I told Emma [Walton Hamilton] I wanted to use my voice to tell her mom's story to today's children, she gave me her blessing, as did Julie Andrews herself."

The Music of John Cage



Anne Schwartz Books

(pub.10.10.2023) 40 pages

4-8 years

Author: Lisa Rogers

Illustrator: Il Sung Na

Character: John Cage


" For John Cage, music was everywhere: in the hum of the refrigerator, the screech of a garbage truck, the patter of the rain. But other people disagreed. They felt that, surely, a pianist on stage must actually play their piano to create music...not just sit there. And in no way was it melodic to turn a musician's mic on and off as they do play their instruments--it was just chaos!

John Cage found sound in silence, and knew that all noises were unique. All you had to do was listen to hear it."

Tantalizing taste:

"What if ...

instead of music notes

you sometimes drew


and dots

and more curlicues

and squiggles

and asked musicians to play them like notes

however they wanted

with whatever

instruments they wanted

and they did?

Then you'd be like John Cage."

And something more: Lisa Rogers, in the Author's Note explains that John Cage , the son of an inventor "spent his life experimenting with ways to combine ordinary sounds (like people laughing, horns beeping, and sirens wailing) to invent new sounds for the music he composed. Influenced by Zen philosophy, he believed that if people could enjoy sounds they thought of as noise, they would be happier...

He was serious about asking people to accept new ideas, recognize music in everyday life, and be still enough to hear sounds in silence."

Updated: Nov 26



Roaring Brook Press


(pub. 9.19.2023) 40 pages

Author: Carole Lindstrom

Illustrator: Bridget George

Character: Josephine Mandamin and Autumn Peltier


" Indigenous women have long cared for the land and water, which in turn sustains all life on Earth―honoring their ancestors and providing for generations to come. Yet there was a time when their voices and teachings were nearly drowned out, leaving entire communities and environments in danger and without clean water.

But then came Grandma Josephine and her great-niece, Autumn Peltier."

Tantalizing taste:

" I remember...

how the Anishinaabe

cherished me,

loved me.

Speak for the water.

Sing for the water.

Dance for the water.

Over time, more people came.

Diminishing their voices.

Drowning out their message.

Those people didn't care for me.

Didn't cherish me.

Didn't love me.

As my voice grew quieter,

the women who cared for me

were forced to get louder."

And something more: The back matter explains that "At the age of eight, Autumn [Peltier] discovered that many First Nation Communities in Ontario were on boil-water advisories - some for several years - and she began speaking out about the importance of water on her reserve. She knew that clean water should be a right for all ...

In 2019, at the age of fourteen, Autumn was appointed Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinaabek Nation, a position previously held by her great-aunt Josephine Mandamin. In her role, Autumn meets with leaders from different Tribal Nations, speaks nationally and internationally about Indigenous rights and water waters, and is instrumental in protecting the water that leads in and out of the Great Lakes."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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