I have one word about this book: Chills. It gave me chills to read. Chills to look at the illustrations. Chills to hear the story of Elizabeth Cotton. She had always heard music, but when she was a child she borrowed her brother’s guitar and taught herself to play. But not just in the usual way. She was left handed and had to play her brothers guitar “upside down and backwards” to make it feel right. Over the years she played and wrote songs. But life got in the way and she stopped playing. She married, had a child and divorced. It was not until a chance meeting with someone from a very famous musical family, as an old woman, that people would hear “Freight Train” (a song she wrote before she was 13) and the other folk songs she performed.
I had never heard of Elizabeth Cotton before this book. Considered one of the greatest folk performers of the 20th Century, it is a shame she has been lost to the public. Many greats of music seem to be lost to general music knowledge. The author takes some poetic license with some of the facts, but that allows for a good story. The afterwards gives you the true story. This book, like so many great books, can be given to children or adults. The muted colors tell an amazing story and are perfect for the tone of the book, but this does make it not a contemporary feel as most picture books are.