I read a new book to my four-year-old son this week called “Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters.”
It’s written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk, and it had been a Kwanzaa gift a few days earlier.
I’m not deeply familiar with Muddy Waters’ music, and I had known even less about his personal story before this book. It turns out he’s a good example for my son of someone who manifested his own dreams in his own way.
Plus, it led us to watch this video of Muddy singing his lungs out, among a few others, and now my four-year-old knows who Muddy Waters is. Cool.
Then I went to start writing something up about the book for the blog and read more about the author and the illustrator (who won a New York Times Award for the beautiful images in this book). Neither one of them is just a straight white man, but neither of them is Black either, and they’re retelling Muddy’s story.
Our house is bursting at the seams in all kinds of ways these days, and we are particularly lucky to be overflowing with books of all kinds — especially for kids. We have shelves filled with kids books written by people of color, and it’s fun to sift through them. (I’d love to keep sharing them with you, incidentally.)
We also have some that are like this one: books written about people of one race by people of another, or about one gender by another, as is the case with “Rejected Princesses: Tales of History’s Boldest Heroines, Hellions, and Heretics,” written by Jason Porath. The question of why he, a self-described "random white guy from Kentucky,” was writing a book about women, is probably best answered by his dedication page, which reads, “
I suppose you want a mix, in the end, but it remains important to be conscious of this dynamic, and that we are intentional about hearing authentic storytellers.
What do you think?
P.S. What is going on in this video exactly? It’s like Mick Jagger, Muddy Waters and the rest of the band don’t realize they’re playing in public.