Stand Up and Sing!
by Susanna Reich (Author), Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)
Pete Seeger, Folk Music and the Path to Justice
Stand up and Sing! is an interesting picture book biography of Pete Seeger, an American folk song singer and social activist. Born in the early 1900’s, Pete’s life is described as one that was full of music and fight for justice.
“Pete was born with music in his bones“, claims the author Susanna Reich. Although a shy child, Pete felt the most comfortable around music. He grew up with songs being sung during dinner time and music that he heard in the woods. But Pete also grew up seeing injustice being done around him. Especially when the Great Depression hit, Pete could see that the rich had enough food on the table while millions of poor folks struggled to get a meal everyday. Pete’s father also took him through poor neighborhoods, where Pete saw first hand the suffering during such hard times.
One day Pete and his family drove to a music festival. There he heard music that went straight to his heart. He studied the various types of music and tried to imitate it. He listened to all kinds of music, love songs, lullabies, blues, game songs, blues and chants! So it wasn’t a surprise that he found a job helping a family friend sort and organize music records for the Library of Congress.
Pete went on to travel around the country with new musician friends. He tried his best to imitate to sing and play the banjo at the same time. With a group of singing friends, Pete would perform to anyone who would listen and sang his heart out. Before long, the group was traveling through the country and performing. It was hard to find a good place to stay with so little money, but Pete didn’t mind as long as he got to play. Pete went on to be part of a popular singing group and became successful. But Pete was far from being happy.
Pete didn’t want to sing only at high paying gigs, but wanted to sing for ordinary people. He was also singing songs that were not particularly popular in the government. But Pete stuck to his values and beliefs. Tough times lay ahead, and he knew the price to pay for his “unpatriotic” songs. But Pete persevered…
“Stand up and Sing!” chronicles Pete Seeger’s career as a singer and activist. Author Susanna Reich documents Pete’s stead fast belief that he could move people through his music. Through simple narrative, Reich descries Pete’s passion for connecting with the common people through his folk songs and his constant struggle in speaking up for what was right despite his own suffering. Adam Gustavson’s art brings the character and his music to life.
This is a great book to add to a character study material or to simply read to learn and listen to Pete’s music. I had not previously read about Pete Seeger, but was fascinated about his life’s journey after reading “Stand up and Sing!”. A lovely picture book for ages 9+.
FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!