All the Things

A blog by Holly Papa.

When Marion Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan, Illustrated by Brian Selznick

by | Mar 13, 2009 | Blog | 4 comments


In most of my picture book reviews I start with a review of the text, but this one I am going to start with the artwork. Brian Selznick does an oustanding job of creating a text that makes you fell as you are part of the audience listening to Marian Anderson sing. First off the cover page looks like a the front program of a recital program and I really like Selznick’s pictures in liquitex acrylics. Secondly, the brown and tan hues he uses really work well with text.

Now Pam Muñoz Ryan’s words are beautifully crafted and interwined with song words that Marian actually sang. They make you want to sing after reading about Marian Anderson. Here is a quote from the front cover, just to give you a feel for what I mean.

It was her range of notes that caused all the commotion. With one breath she sounded like, rain, sprinkling high notes in the morning sun. And with the next she was thunder, resounding deep in a dark sky.

See doesn’t that make you want to sing or at least hear Marian Anderson’s voice.

Who was Marian Anderson? Well she was an African American opera singer. Born in 1887, she was denied entrance into a singing school during high school because of her ethinicity.   Later she trained with Giuseppe Boghetti and toured Europe. She could sing in eight languages, but it was years into her singing career before she was able to perform at the prestigious Metropolitan Opera House because Jim Crow Laws. In addition she was forbidden to sing at  Constitution Hall by the DAR (Daughter’s of the American Revolution). First Lady,  Eleanore Roosevelt resigned her membership and invited her to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1939. Marian sang beautifully even though she was frightened and feared that protesters might bring violence. She sang in front of 75,000 people.

Pam Muñoz Ryan’s website and Brian Selznick’s website

When Marian Sang is one of the books I am reviewing for Women’s History Month for March. Stay tuned for more books for Women’s History Month.


  1. Laura Koenig

    This is one of my very favorites. Just gorgeous.

  2. Natasha @ Maw Books

    I just learned about Marion for the first time during Black History Month when I read Freeman’s book. This one looks great too.

  3. caribookscoops

    Natasha – This is a really good book and I love Pam Munoz Ryan, she is one of my favorites!

  4. Marowa

    This book is great book. When my teacher read this book to me, i loved it so much!!! This is like the best book in the world!!! Pam Munoz Ryan is my favorite author!



  1. When Marian Sang & the CCC | Ms. Jackie's CCC - [...] in concerts at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom.  The theme this year was based upon the book When Marian Sang.  Chicago…

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