The Legendary Miss Lena Horne

Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
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About The Book

Celebrate the life of Lena Horne, the pioneering African American actress and civil rights activist, with this inspiring and powerful picture book from award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford.

You have to be taught to be second class; you’re not born that way.

Lena Horne was born into the freedom struggle, to a family of teachers and activists. Her mother dreamed of being an actress, so Lena followed in her footsteps as she chased small parts in vaudeville, living out of a suitcase until MGM offered Lena something more—the first ever studio contract for a black actress.

But the roles she was considered for were maids and mammies, stereotypes that Lena refused to play. Still, she never gave up. “Stormy Weather” became her theme song, and when she sang “This Little Light of Mine” at a civil rights rally, she found not only her voice, but her calling.

About The Author

Photograph © Darryl Hawkins

Carole Boston Weatherford has written many award-winning books for children, including Caldecott Honor winners Freedom in Congo Square, Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. Her recent books include In Your HandsThe Legendary Miss Lena Horne, You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, and How Sweet the Sound. Carole lives in North Carolina. Visit her at CBWeatherford.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (January 2017)
  • Length: 48 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481468244
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® 1010L

Raves and Reviews

* “Weatherford's writing is succinct and inspirational. Zunon's oil paint and cut-paper collage illustrations are more than a match for Horne's dynamic onstage presence. Their dramatic design showcases a . . . memorable life dedicated to music and civil rights, presented with commensurate style.”

– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Where this volume truly shines is in its straightforward but multifaceted approach to the complicated realities of Horne’s stardom. . . . Weatherford celebrates Horne for her skill and for changing the game for those to come. . . . Zunon’s paint and collage illustrations fill the pages with rich colors and remain true to the glamor of Horne’s performances.”

– School Library Journal

* “An exceptionally handsome book. . . . Weatherford’s informative yet succinct text is juxtaposed against a happily oversize picture-book format that allows enough room for Zunon’s impressive oil-paint and collage artwork.”

– Booklist, starred review

* “Weatherford and Zunon vibrantly capture the setbacks and triumphs of African-American performer Lena Horne tracing her rise from a Brooklyn childhood to a singer and actress who faced persistent racism.”

– Publishers Weekly, starred review

Awards and Honors

  • CBC/NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book
  • Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best
  • Wisconsin State Reading Association's Reading List
  • Arnold Adoff Poetry Award

Resources and Downloads

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More books from this author: Carole Boston Weatherford