Mister and Lady Day

Billie Holiday
and the Dog Who Loved Her

This post joins other
kidlit bloggers on the
Nonfiction Monday Roundup
and also joins It's Monday!
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Harcourt Children's Books
(Houghton Miffllin Harcourt)
(pub. 6.18.2013) 32 pages

A True Tale with 
A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Amy Novesky
           and Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley Newton
C haracter: BILLIE HOLIDAY - jazz singer

O verview from the jacket flap: 

    "The great jazz singer Billie Holiday, known as Lady Day, had fame, style, a distinctive singing voice - and lots of dogs! But a boxer named Mister was the dog she loved most.
     She took good care of Mister, and Mister took good care of her. When the spotlight lit her up like star, Mister was there. When the stage - and her life - went dark, Mister was there. No matter what, Mister gave Lady Day courage.
     But would she have enough courage to sing at the grandest venue of her career? The audience at New York City's Carnegie Hall was expecting great things."

T antalizing taste: 

     "Then, just when her career was at the top, Lady got into trouble. She had to leave home for a year and a day. And Mister couldn't come. Lady knew what it was like to be left, and it made her heartsick. She promised Mister she'd be home soon.
     But when she looked into his sad eyes, she wasn't sure she'd ever see him again.
     While Lady was gone, she wrote letters and knit sweaters. But she did not sing. Singing was about feeling, and she didn't feel a thing."

and something more: The back matter of Mister and Lady Day explains that "Despite achieving fame, Billie's life was not always a happy one.  When she was a girl, her father abandoned her, and her mother worked away from home, leaving Billie behind.  As an adult, she suffered from a drug addiction and, at the peak of her career, was sentenced to one year in prison for drug possession.  While she was gone she refused to sing, because, she said, 'I didn't feel a thing.'  
        But on March 2, 1948, just days after her homecoming, she performed a sold-out show at New York City's prestigious Carnegie Hall before a crowd of thousands ... In spite of her troubles - troubles that would follow her until the day she died at age forty-four - the great Lady Day shone like a star that memorable night." 
      I'm thrilled to share this wonderful book by my friend and amazing writer, Amy Novesky.  As I'm always curious as to why an author chose to write a book a certain way, I asked Amy about her inspiration for Mister and Lady Day
        Amy explained, "I wanted to write a picture book about Billie Holiday, but just didn't know how to do it, given that she had a life that involved elements that are not particularly appropriate for kids (prostitution, drug addiction, prison). But when I learned that Billie loved dogs and had many in her life, I knew that I had my story. (I have a beloved pug dog named George). And when I learned that her favorite was a dog named Mister, I had my title, Mister & Lady Day."  (And, by the way, Amy's dog, George, is a sweet funny one...maybe there will be a future book titled George and Amy!) 


Tara Smith said...

I love Billie ... that voice, especially in the later years, revealed how hard her life had been. But, beautiful to listen to, never the less.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Hi Tara, Yes, I think you're right that her voice spoke volumes. Beautiful and powerful.

Thanks for stopping by!

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

Hi there Jeanne. I've added this book in my list of PBBs! Thank you always for highlighting such great titles.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks Myra for your kind words! So glad to hear you've added Amy Novesky's wonderful book to your list of PBBs.

amy novesky said...

Jeanne, thank you for the wonderful review! And thank you Tara and Myra for your comments. I'm thrilled to share this book with the world.

Jeanne Walker Harvey said...

Thanks Amy for stopping by AND for writing such a wonderful book!