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Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People by Bonnie…

Woody Guthrie: Poet of the People

by Bonnie Christensen

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This book tells the story of folk musician Woody Guthrie, the writer of the famous song "This Land is Your Land." Tells about his childhood moving around and making ends meet during the Great Depression, then his work with unions and veterans, then the environment, and finally for his own children and others. He wrote songs to advocate for justice and respect for all. He died from the same disease that took his mother at a fairly young age but his songs live on.
  Janelle537 | Jul 17, 2017 |
First, I must openly admit that I checked this book out by mistake, thinking it was Elizabeth Partridge's award winning Woody Guthrie biography "This Land Is Your Land." About halfway through the book, after I'd already decided I didn't love it, I realized my mistake, but still kept reading. As an avid fan of folk music, I've always been fascinated by Woody Guthrie and the generation of songwriters he inspired. The book's title "Poet of The People," is absolutely correct, and this biography provides a decent overview of the songwriter's life and connection to the people he wrote about (primarily Great Depression and Dust Bowl sufferers).

As far as accuracy is concerned, there is an informative historical timeline in the back of the book, but no bibliography. Additionally, the author herself appears to be more rooted in the art/illustration world. I didn't notice any glaring factual mistakes; however, the book certainly read more like a story than a definitive biography.

Layout-wise, I thought the book was a bit hard to read. This could be a matter of personal preference, but I found the pages to be a bit overwhelming. In addition to the large illustrations, there was a combination of both printed and hand illustrated text. While I appreciate the concept, the mixture of type treatments was a bit jarring.

With all of that in mind, I would not say this is a bad book -- I just think there may be better Woody Guthrie books available. I think I will seek out the Partridge book for the purpose of comparison. One thing that this book did prompt me to do was to go listen to some Woody Guthrie songs. I'm not sure I'd ever paid attention to all seven verses of "This Land Is Your Land," but there certainly are a few that my first grade teacher omitted during class sing alongs.

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the Relief office I saw my people
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering
If this land was made for you and me? ( )
  JeffCarver | Mar 15, 2014 |
With the text to various songs running through the illustrations, this book covered the life of the famous songwriter quite well. I enjoyed it. ( )
  matthewbloome | May 19, 2013 |
This book describes the life of Woody Guthrie without going into deep details as to why he needed to voice the issues and struggles of different groups of Americans. The story is light-hearted and could be used as a general read aloud for younger students or could be used as a mentor text to how lyrics are written. For use with older students, this book could be the starting point to discuss things such as migrant issues in the United States. Students could use this text along with other mentor texts (various Woody Guthrie songs) and analyze how his songs helped describe specific groups and could research his efforts to help. The grade level for the text complexity is 4.5 although the grander ideas (in my opinion) are much more complex and mature than 4th grade. ( )
  KennaEmerson | Dec 10, 2012 |
"Woody Guthrie, Poet of the People" is a biography of Woody Guthrie, the American folk singer. It included many historical events along the way that could be expanded upon further. It discusses migrant workers, Okies, the Dust Bowl, WWII, and the Great Depression. The book shows the way these events effected his songs. I think this would be of great use in an upper elementary/middle school social studies lesson to introduce certain time periods. I also think it would be of great use introducing folk music in a music/art appreciation class. I enjoyed reading it to see how his music was truly effected by his life. ( )
  jroy218 | Aug 24, 2012 |
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Book description
To celebrate the life and times of an American original folk musician who wrote "This land Is Your Land" and many other songs.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375811133, Hardcover)

This simple, beautifully illustrated biography of folk legend Woody Guthrie is also a social history of the tough times he lived in. Bonnie Christensen has a folksy yet elegant painting style reminiscent of woodblock work, and the muted blues and browns are enormously evocative of a tragic family history, a hardscrabble life in Oklahoma during the Great Depression, and of a boy kept afloat by hope, compassion, and sheer musical talent. The story takes us all the way to Guthrie's relatively settled life as a married man with kids on Coney Island's Mermaid Avenue. It's a pity, perhaps, that the book encompasses the lyrics of only Guthrie's most famous song, "This Land Is Your Land." But it's the kind of story that sends a reader scurrying for more lyrics---and tapes, of course--and perhaps a borrowed guitar. (Ages 6 to 12) --Richard Farr

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

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An introductory biography of famous folk singer Woody Guthrie presented as a picture book with a brief lyrical text and woodcut-like illustrations. Includes the complete lyrics to his "This Land is Your Land."

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