One Love by Cedella Marley

Cindy: I usually hate celebrity picture books and I’m not usually wishy-washy on book opinions, but One Love (Chronicle Books 2011) has me dithering and looking for other opinions. Can we talk? Full disclosure: I am a Bob Marley fan. I have a tiki bar in my back yard with a 4-foot carved statue of Marley as one decoration. I honeymooned in Jamaica. We have blogged a Bob Marley biography picture book here a couple of years ago. One Love is a great song.

On to the book.

Bob’s daughter, Cedella Marley, has adapted the lyrics for a picture book promoting family and neighborhood unity. The lyrics surviving from the song are the popular refrain:

One love, one heart,
let’s get together and feel alright!

Charming, colorful illustrations with some collage elements by Vanessa Brantley-Newton detail the home and neighborhood of a young girl and showcase the new story:

One love, what my family gives to me.
One love, what the flower gives the bee.
One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.

And so on, as the neighborhood residents all “get together” and turn a vacant ugly lot into a beautiful garden named “One Love Park.”

When you recall the original lyrics, gone are the references to sinners, oppression, fighting a Holy Armageddon, etc. What you have is a pretty and joyful tribute to the refrain…which does support the theme of unity…but, I don’t know. I’m not sure that’s enough. I’m all for keeping Marley’s music alive with children, and the message is a worthy one, but…. Opinions? The book doesn’t pub until October but if you’ve seen a copy, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

I was just ready to hand this post off to Lynn when I found the book trailer on Chronicle’s site and heard Cedella singing the new lyrics. I like the music version more than the printed text version.

And, we could all name horrid examples of celebrity books (and that would be fun) but I’d also like to hear if you’ve read one that you thought was really worthy of publication–beyond the star power name.

Lynn: As the reigning curmudgeon of Bookends I have to say that while this book is cute, bright and happy, it just isn’t my kind of thing.  In the interest of objectivity however I am trying to set aside my natural avoidance of all things sweet and cute.  I think many children will enjoy this with its colorful parade of happy people singing about all there is to love and enjoy in the world.  An ideal size for story-time, the simple text and repeatable lyric makes this a nice choice for very young children.

As to celebrity books – my curmudgeon self kicks in at the mere thought of those!  It is unfair, I know, to assume that just because someone is famous they can’t write.  So noted.  However, it is the underlying assumption so many people make about writing for children that boils my blood.  “It’s a book for kids – how hard can THAT be,”  seems to be the thought not just of actor/celebrities but sadly of many writers for adults as well.  Well, as everyone of you reading this blog knows very well, writing for kids and teens is the toughest kind of writing to do!  If your audience isn’t hooked immediately, they run, jump, crawl or leap away.  As a reviewer, I often wish I had the same option!




About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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