Saturday, November 14, 2009

Becoming Billie Holiday ~ Carole Weatherford review

Miami Book Fair International review
Becoming Billie Holiday
(Ffloyd Cooper-illustrator)
October 2008
117 Pages

Most people have not heard of Eleanora Fagan. But most people have heard of Billie Holiday. (Okay, so in Clueless she loved 'him' but we shouldn't base everyone on Cher, should we?) The fact is, Eleanora Fagan is the birth name of Billie Holiday. One of the many, many things that you learn reading Becoming Billie Holiday, the fictionalized, told in verse autobiography of Billie Holiday by Weatherford. But you never feel like you're being taught things, that's what's so perfect about the book.

Covering Billie Holiday's tough life up until the age of twenty-five in different poems, all titled with Billie Holiday song titles Becoming is a fantastic tale. While it is fictionalized, there was a lot of research done so it's not just made up facts of Holiday's life.

It stops short of the time that she really got into drugs, covering just the 'happier' times of her life but you still learn about all of the hardships Billie Holiday went through--some that I found hard to believe, but are in fact true.

Carole Boston Weatherford has great writing and the first person poem's really connect you to Billie Holiday much better, I think, than some other form of telling her story might. I'm really interested in reading some of her other books now.

While this book does cover someone's life that wasn't all roses and puppies by any means, I think it would be a suitable read for anyone from middle grade to adults.

If you do read it, I'd suggest that you read all of the notes in the back where Weatherford explains why she wrote the book the way she did and why she covered the time period of Holiday's life that she did--it was interesting.

And the artwork of the book is also explained. Cooper's art is really beautiful and the way it's done just seems to fit Billie Holiday's music in it's style and having the illustrations added to the telling of the story.

It was a quick read and one you definitely won't be sorry you picked up.

10/10 for this

(tagging this nonfiction and fiction because while it's listed as fiction, it is somewhat 'non')
And again, the cover will be added as soon as I have my computer internet-y again to add pics.

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