Reviews for Mister and Lady Day : Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #2
True to Billie Holiday's life and music, the rhythmic free verse and bright pictures mix joy and melancholy in this picture-book introduction to the great jazz singer known as Lady Day. Always distant from people, Holiday chose dogs as her closest companions, and the gouache-and-charcoal images show the poodle she carried in her coat pocket, the Chihuahuas she fed with a baby bottle, and Mac Moocho, who wagged his tail like a metronome. Her bond is strongest with a boxer dog, Mister, and one scene shows both of them walking in fur coats on the midnight streets. Scowling Mister guards her, keeping fans at a polite distance. Then, Holiday gets in trouble (the afterword fills in that she spends a year in prison for drugs), and when she returns, she's greeted with Mister's joyful leap to lick her face. A final double-page spread shows her triumphant performance at Carnegie Hall. Kids will love the focus on the pet bond--bittersweet, just like Holiday's voice--and many will want to hear her music. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Fall
This starter biography of singer (and dog lover) Billie Holiday spotlights her relationship with her favorite pet, a boxer named Mister. The focus on Holiday's dog is a conspicuous effort to soften the hard edges on the singer's story, but this is still an excellent introduction to the jazz great. Newton's glam-infused illustrations work best when depicting Holiday as a diva. Bib.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 May #1
Using simple, reductive prose, this appreciation of jazz great Holiday focuses on the dogs in the singer's life. "Lady Day's dogs were her best friends of all." Novesky supports this assertion with evidence: a pocket-sized poodle, a beagle, Chihuahuas; a mutt called Rajah Ravoy. But the spotlight's on Mister, Holiday's elegant, devoted boxer, who went to gigs, dined on steaks and even wore a mink coat. While an author's note provides background, the text is resolutely oblique on the subject of Holiday's 1947 drug conviction and jail time. "[J]ust 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." While much of the narrative is fact-based, Novesky does take an acknowledged liberty in speculating that Mister might have attended Billie's successful post-prison show at Carnegie Hall. (Illustrator Newton places Mister there, on the final spread.) Newton's appealing mixed-media pictures, containing elements of gouache, charcoal, collage and digital layering, range from images derived from concert photos to a playful imagining of napkin-draped Mister drooling over a steak. Her reliance on period photos has one drawback: Holiday's face and physique alter in several spreads, belying the compressed, undated narrative arc. By highlighting Lady Day's affectionate relationship with Mister, Novesky and Newton invite readers to admire the illustrious singer in a sparkling new light. (author's note, website, adult bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 June #1

This biography of Billie Holiday (1915-1959) is as much a study of her dogs as of the singer. And there were a lot of them. "The Chihuahuas, Chiquita and Pepe, she fed with a baby bottle," writes Novesky. "There was the Great Dane named Gypsy and the wire-haired terrier Bessie Mae Moocho," and more. Lady Day's favorite was her boxer, Mister, and this story's drama centers around whether Mister will be there for Holiday after "she had to leave home for a year and a day" (endnotes explain that this was due to a conviction for drug possession). Newton's illustrations neatly incorporate sheet music, photographic elements, and period ephemera, and both text and art capture the sweet bond between Holiday and her beloved animals. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 May

Gr 2-5--This introduction to the jazz great has tons of kid appeal. Capitalizing on her indulgent devotion to her pet dogs, Lady Day is presented with lighthearted whimsy: a little white poodle in her coat pocket; two bottle-fed Chihuahuas; and her beloved boxer, Mister, sporting a mink coat and waiting in the wings at every performance, to name a few. From the little girl who loved to sing along to her favorite recordings to the grown woman who became a star, Holiday will capture the imagination of young music lovers. Even the lowest times of her life are presented in terms of her pups: "…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." Older children who read the appended biographical note learn that these simple lines refer to Holiday's abandonment as a child and to the drug addiction that would take her life. The generously sized gouache-and-charcoal illustrations capture the glamour and humor of this singer and dog-lover's experiences. Bright colors, full spreads, and collage combine to paint a larger-than-life portrait. Pair this title with Sue Stauffacher's Bessie Smith and the Night Riders (Putnam, 2006) for units on black or women's history or an introduction to jazz and blues.--Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools

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