- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul by Carole Boston Weatherford
Weatherford, Carole Boston R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul; illus. by Frank Morrison. Atheneum, 2020 [48p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781534452282 $18.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781534452299 $10.99 Reviewed from galleys R 4-8 yrs
Noted chronicler Weatherford now turns her pen to the legendary Aretha Franklin in a creative format: each page features a spelled-out title and then a couplet, all of them ending with the same long E sound as the titular famous song phrase. It's a speedy but effective tour of a musical life that started in gospel (first recording when she was only fourteen), then moved into R&B; of how her personal involvement with the civil rights movement expanded; and of how they both combined in her singing at Barack Obama's inauguration. Though the book never parses the title, leaving explanation to a nearby grownup in the know, the couplet titles ("V-O-IC-E," "G-R-O-O-V-E," etc.) ring out when read aloud, and the occasional line of lyrics breaking loose from the format ("Someday we'll all be free") especially resonates. Morrison's portraiture is a glamorously styled delight, from the lushly feather-trimmed Franklin on the cover to the double-page classic pink Cadillac on the title spread to a resplendent Franklin, gleaming with gold jewelry and sporting full glorious natural hair, giving a civil rights–era concert. This cries out to be partnered with some cranked up tunes and dancing, which will make young listeners relate to the little girl on the closing endpapers, who clutches a Franklin album in vinyl and beams with delight. An author's note gives more detail about the singer's life, and a brief list of Franklin's hits is appended.