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August 30, 2014, 10:19 am

Children’s book celebrates power of gospel music

Never before has gospel music and Black History come together as evocatively as it does in “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” (Zonderkidz, $16.99). From the dream team behind the Coretta Scott King award-winner “I See The Rhythm,” illustrator Michele Wood and writer Toyomi Igus blend the rhythm of gospel with the remarkable history of African Americans to deliver a powerful message to young readers across the globe.

Igus is the author and editor of several books for children, including “Two Mrs. Gibsons” and the award-winning books “Going Back Home” and “I See the Rhythm.” A former editor and publications director for UCLA’s Center for African American studies, Igus has been honored for her work in promoting literacy among children.

“Gospel evolved from the early African-American spiritual, but no one can say exactly when and where the spiritual got it’s start. Did enslaved Africans copy and change the European Christian and folk music? How many African slaves were exposed to Christianity before they were brought to the Americas? Did those slaves bring their own African releigious songs to the New World and modify them? Did slaves create their own unique songs? Historians are still asking these questions. What we do know is that theAfrican-American spiritual was born out of the brutality of slavery and evolved into what we know today as ‘gospel music.’ It is a response to the centuries of injustice and discriminations endured by enslaved Africans.”

With vibrant illustrations inspired by the beautiful retelling of monumental moments in Black History, “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” teaches young readers about the history of America as inspired by the energy of gospel music. From the beginning of slavery in the 1500s to Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, to the civil rights movement and the inauguration of America’s first African-American president in 2008, “I See the Rhythm of Gospel” brilliantly recaptures milestones in history while introducing young readers to key leaders who came before them.

“In this book, Michele and I want to take you on a trip through time to learn more about African Aemrican history and gospel music. We want you to see through Michele’s pictures and my words how the lives of African Americans—and our spirit—infuenced the music and how the music influenced our lives. How gospel music expressed our pain and sorrows, uplifted our souls and gave us the strength to endure and survive.”

Children and adults will be captivated by the inspirational emotional and compelling blend of poetry, art, and music in “I See the Rhythm of Gospel,” as well as the bonus music CD included in this book.


Contact Tribune Staff Writer Bobbi Booker at (215) 893-5749 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .