A few years ago, I sat at lunch with Leda Schubert at the Kaigler Book Festival and listened to her dream of a book about Pete Seeger. She had bravely faced her fear of flying to come down for the occasion. We Hattiesburgers (no joke, that’s officially what we are called) claim a close relationship with Pete. He was one of the movers and shakers of the Hattiesburg Freedom School during Freedom Summer. I’ve been waiting impatiently for Leda’s book ever since. It’s here and appropriately named LISTEN.
Leda emphasizes two themes in the book – LISTEN and SING.
There was nobody like Pete Seeger.
Wherever he went, he got people singing.
With his head thrown back
and his Adam’s apple bouncing,
picking his long-necked banjo
or strumming his twelve-string guitar,
Pete sang old songs,
new words to old songs,
and songs he made up.
The singing comes up as she strews those songs he sang throughout her narrative of his fight against social injustice. She recounts his popular concerts as well as his difficulties with the McCarthy era witch hunts. The beautiful illustrations by Raul Colon match her gift of story-telling.
Since I wanted my book signed for two special little boys and since I love supporting local independent book stores, I ordered it from her local Bear Pond Books. After it arrived, I suggested to those boys that I would read it to them after lunch. Benjamin said, “Oh, you can read it to us while we eat.” He didn’t want to wait to LISTEN. And I found myself wanting to SING when I came to a list of Pete’s song selections,
“If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning . . . ”
Don’t miss it – not the listening, not the nostalgic illustrations, not the reading, and not the singing.