#WomenReadWomen2019 Books Early Readers Features Genre Lifespan of a Reader Middle Grade Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes Witches and Goddesses Dryads and Priestesses

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Enchantress Of Song Casts A Spell (With A Canine Companion By Her Side)

"Mister And Lady Day: Billie Holiday And The Dog Who Loved Her" by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton.

Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.

Mister And Lady Day: Billie Holiday And The Dog Who Loved Her

Written by Amy Novesky Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers (2013)
ISBN: 0152058060 (ISBN13: 9780152058067)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I am a huge fan of Billie Holiday’s music. She is one of my favourite female jazz musicians of all time. While this picturebook biography does not depict her entire life story narrative from childhood, it highlights her many canine companions across different breeds from the chihuahuas Chiquita and Pepe to a mutt grandly named Rajah Ravoy, to her absolute favourite, a boxer named Mister.

There were no other human beings depicted in this story, but these canine companions were depicted to be loyal and constant, regardless of whether Lady Day (as Billie Holiday is called) was at the top of her career or not.

There was also a reference to Lady Day needing to be gone for an entire year, which made her worried about whether Mister the boxer would still remember her when she returns. She knew how difficult it was to be left behind. The author’s note reveals that she experienced abandonment as a child, and went through a very tumultuous period, requiring her to be out of commission for an entire year (what that entailed, I shall leave for you to find this book and discover for yourself).

This was an illuminating story showing the significance of animal companions and the power of music and its many enchantments. Pair this light hearted picture book biography that provides hints of Billie Holiday’s cavernous loneliness and the pain that drove her with a biography written in verse by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Becoming Billie Holidaywhich I reviewed here.

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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

1 comment on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] Enchantress Of Song Casts A Spell (With A Canine Companion By Her Side)

  1. lindabaie

    Thanks for sharing some of this new book and the older one, too, Myra. I love hearing Billie Holiday sing and know so little about her.


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