Strange Fruit
Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song

written by Gary Golio & illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb
Millbrook Press


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In 1939, a young Billie Holiday sang a song that would change her life forever. "Strange Fruit," written by Bronx schoolteacher and activist Abel Meeropol, was a haunting piece of music about a horrifying subject--lynching. When Billie debuted the song at a new club in Greenwich Village open to both white and black customers (a first for the time), her performance left audiences speechless, angry, confused...and inspired. What she didn't know was that "Strange Fruit" would become a cornerstone of the Civil Rights Movement twenty years later, and shine a light on the ever-present issue of race in America.

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday and the Power of a Protest Song tells the story of how a gifted jazz singer joined forces with a songwriter and a NYC clubowner to challenge injustice with the power of art. Author Gary Golio's poetic text, coupled with artist Charlotte Riley-Webb's vibrant and jazz-like images, weaves an unforgettable tale of personal bravery that is perhaps more relevant today than ever.

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"A must-read, must-discuss that will speak to children and linger with adults."

starred review

"...a potent reminder of the power of art to combat intolerance and hate."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

Check out reviewer-educator Vicki Spandel's Teaching Guide for using Strange Fruit in the classroom!

Listen to Gary Golio & Charlotte Riley-Webb's interview with Atlanta dj Kiplyn Primus!

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