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Susan Robeson

Susan Robeson

Grandpa Stops a War: A Paul Robeson Story

By Susan Robeson & Illustrated by Rod Brown

A true story that celebrates peace and the power of music in times of discord and war.

The true story of Paul Robeson's visit to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War is a tale of courage and activism told by his granddaughter, Susan Robeson.

Grandpa Paul was a world-famous actor and singer with a deep and rumbling voice, a man of peace and principle who worried about the safety of children and families living in countries at war. He wanted to use his voice to promote social justice all over the world. Though people warned Grandpa Paul that it was too dangerous, he traveled with his friend Captain Fernando to the battlefields of the Spanish Civil War to sing to the soldiers. And then something amazing happened...

With gorgeous illustrations from fine artist Rod Brown, Grandpa Stops a War celebrates Paul Robeson's global activism and towering achievements and shows readers the power of music in times of discord and war.

The Author's Note helps readers learn more about the author's personal experience growing up in the Robeson family, and gives parents, teachers, and librarians more in-depth material to expand the reader's understanding of the war and Robeson as a champion of civil rights, global freedom, and world peace.

ROD BROWN is a fine artist and the illustrator of We Troubled the Waters and Freedom's A-Callin Me both by Ntozake Shange, and From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. His artwork has been featured in museums and on national television including at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in NYC, as well as on Oprah's OWN Network and the Nickelodeon program "The Legacy of Slavery" with Linda Ellerbee. He lives with his wife outside of Washington, DC.

"A wonderful message for children about Paul Robeson's life and his devotion to freedom and justice.”

– Faith Ringgold, author of Tar Beach and We Came to America

“A touching introduction for young readers of the great singer and activist Paul Robeson, told by his granddaughter, with evocative drawings by Rod Brown and intriguing back matter for older readers.”

– Elizabeth Levy, author of over 100 books for children and young adults, and former co-chair of PEN Children’s Book Committee

“Deeply saturated, highly textured illustrations effectively capture the dangers Robeson encountered to try to bring peace to war-torn Spain ... A story worth hearing about a cause worth fighting.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“… Susan Robeson, the singer's granddaughter and a documentary filmmaker, retells a family story simply and effectively, and leaves it to listeners to reflect on implicit messages about war, peace, and the power of one gifted, brave, compassionate person to help others. In an appended author's note, she fills in historical details. Brown contributes a series of strong, well-composed paintings using deep, rich colors that capture the book's emotional undertones effectively.”

– Booklist

“The author… recounts the story her father used to tell her about how "Grandpa Paul" stopped a war with his singing…The narrative emphasizes the importance of individual action ("each of us must do our part to bring peace into the world"). Brown's bright, rich colors, painted with texture, bring readers on an emotional journey, from crowds of concert-goers to destroyed towns in Spain… VERDICT A great purchase for picture book biography collections.”

– School Library Journal

updated: 3 years ago