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Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music,…
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Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice

by Susanna Reich

Other authors: Adam Gustavson (Illustrator), Peter Yarrow (Foreword)

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Showing 4 of 4
Longer than most picture book biographies ( )
  melodyreads | Jan 16, 2018 |
This biography of the activist and folk singer Pete Seeger is for older readers (suggested age is 7 and up), although it is a picture book. The author tells readers the story of how Seeger came to become both a musician and an advocate of civil rights, inspiring generations, most recently during the turbulent years of the 1960's. (A review of a similar biography but for younger readers, Listen: how Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert is reviewed here.)

Over his long life (he lived to be 94), Seeger never stopped playing to crowds gathered to protest injustice of any kind. His was a unique kind of “nonviolent” protesting; he used his words and music on his five-string banjo to convey workers’ rights issues, the need for civil rights for blacks, objections to the Vietnam War, and respect for the environment, inter alia.

Seeger was investigated, censored, and blacklisted, but still he persisted. “We Shall Overcome,” an old gospel song, became one of the key songs of the Civil Rights Movement thanks to Seeger.

The author, in a note at the end of this book, relates that she grew up in a situation much like that of Pete Seeger: among other similarities, their families had traditions of political activism, and one parent was a professional musicologist. She heard Seeger perform many times, and was greatly influenced by him.

She writes:

“As I researched this book, I came to understand why Pete saw himself as a link in a chain. It’s a chain in which music and social responsibility are intertwined, one that began long before he was born and will continue now that he’s gone. This book is meant to be a link in that chain.

I loved the illustrations by award-winning illustrator Adam Gustavson, who uses digitized gouache, watercolor, pencil, and oil paintings to portray scenes from Seeger’s life.

Evaluation: This is an excellent introduction to the life of someone today’s kids may not know, but should. His songs continue to permeate popular culture, and to encourage a new generation of performers to become politically engaged. ( )
  nbmars | Sep 16, 2017 |
I came to this book as a huge Pete Seeger fan. I can’t count the number of times I saw him perform. The first time I was a young child, maybe 5 or 6 years old and my mother brought me to see him perform at U.C. Berkeley. He was singing for young kids like me. I saw him at many venues in the San Francisco Bay Area, including at least 3 times at the free summer Stern Grove Festival. I adore the man and I adore the music and the activism behind much of it. I also love his silly and otherwise humorous songs.

I did learn some things about Pete from this book and I want to read more. Because of the length of the text here, so much about Pete’s life was not covered, even though it’s a very text heavy picture book. Pete Seeger talked a lot during performances, some about himself, mostly about the issues.

As I read this book, I sang the songs in my head.

I think this book will be most appreciated by older kids, and adults, but particularly people who know the songs. If readers/listeners are not familiar with the songs, they should be played in order to better understand the man and this book.

There are more resources in the back and I will be checking them out!

This book didn’t quite give me the Pete Seeger fix that I needed. Perhaps a longer biography would, but I suspect it’s only his songs that will do the trick. Thank goodness for them, and for my memories of their context. I’m sad that there will be no more. We really need him NOW. I’d love so much to hear some new songs by him about the current state of affairs. I know he’d be brilliant and would galvanize me and others to take even more actions than we are now. He was a great man.

As I said, this might be a good book for young fans of Pete Seeger (but they MUST know his music) and it’s a great introductory book for would be activists, students of social history and environmental science, etc.

The illlustrations’ art style wasn’t my favorite but I ended up liking it well enough, and I appreciated the (too few) photos of Pete Seeger. I’d have been even happier having this book be full of photos, but I know there are other places to see photos. ( )
  Lisa2013 | Jun 18, 2017 |
Susanna Reich spins an engaging tale in this picture-book biography of folk-singer, political activist, and American icon Pete Seeger. Always interested in music, Seeger, who was born in 1919, was deeply influenced by the events of the Great Depression, which shaped his vision of a just society, and what it should look like. An advocate for working people, and for civil rights, his early years as a musician were spent performing for union meetings, and other political gatherings of a progressive bent. His activism saw his group, The Weavers, blacklisted during the McCarthy years, and he often faced physical danger as well, from people outraged that he performed together on stage with black musicians. In his later years, Seeger became involved in the environmental struggle, founding an organization to help clean up the polluted Hudson River. But wherever he was, and whatever he was doing, Seeger incorporated music into his struggle for a better America, and a better world...

As someone who grew up in the Hudson Valley area, and who was involved in progressive politics from an early age, I have many memories of seeing Pete Seeger perform - at the annual Clearwater Festival in Croton, at various political picnics I attended - and I had the honor of meeting him a few times. That background made reading Stand Up and Sing! a particular pleasure, as I learned a little bit more about a man I already greatly admired, but also had the feeling of coming home a bit. Seeger was a man of principle, and his refusal to bow to the pressures put upon him by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, as well as his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement - it was he who introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. to the song We Shall Overcome - and the anti-Vietnam War movement, were particularly admirable. As someone who grew up near the Hudson River, however, his struggle to clean up that great waterway will probably be nearest to my heart, of all his many claims to fame. That and (of course) his music! This is an engaging book, and features appealing artwork by Adam Gustavson, who also worked with Reich on her picture-book about the Beatles, Fab Four Friends. Recommended to anyone looking for excellent new picture-book biographies, particularly those with both musical and historical significance. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | May 19, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Susanna Reichprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gustavson, AdamIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Yarrow, PeterForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802738125, Hardcover)

Inspired by the rhythms of American folk music, this moving account of Pete Seeger's life celebrates his legacy, showing kids of every generation that no cause is too small and no obstacle too large if, together, you stand up and sing!

Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones. Coming of age during the Great Depression, Pete saw poverty and adversity that would forever shape his worldview, but it wasn't until he received his first banjo that he found his way to change the world. It was plucking banjo strings and singing folk songs that showed Pete how music had the incredible power to bring people together.

Using this gift throughout his life, Pete encouraged others to rally behind causes that mattered--fighting for Civil Rights, ending the Vietnam War, or cleaning up the Hudson River. For Pete, no challenge was too great, and what started out as a love for music turned into a lifetime of activism and change. His greatest talent--and greatest passion--would become an unforgettable part of American history.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:42:10 -0500)

Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones. Coming of age during the Great Depression, Pete saw poverty and adversity that would forever shape his worldview, but it wasn't until he received his first banjo that he found his way to change the world. It was plucking banjo strings and singing folk songs that showed Pete how music had the incredible power to bring people together. Using this gift throughout his life, Pete encouraged others to rally behind causes that mattered--fighting for Civil Rights, ending the Vietnam War, or cleaning up the Hudson River. For Pete, no challenge was too great, and what started out as a love for music turned into a lifetime of activism and change. His greatest talent--and greatest passion--would become an unforgettable part of American history.… (more)

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