Sunday, March 6, 2011

Giveaway: Mirandy and Brother Wind (Paperback)

Congratulations to Linda Levrault, who won a signed copy of Mirandy and Brother Wind! Although my giveaway is closed to new entries, I hope you will still enjoy the post.

Last weekend, my six-year old, my four-year old, and I spent a lovely afternoon at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC, watching Mirandy and Brother Wind--an outstanding new children's musical based on the award-winning picture book by the same name. 

The book Mirandy and Brother Wind, written by Patricia C. McKissack and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, was published by Dragonfly Books in 1988, winning both a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Award the following year. It is the sweet story of a little girl named Mirandy who dreams of winning her town's junior cakewalk by catching "Brother Wind" and making him be her dancing partner...

Swish! Swish! It was spring, and Brother Wind was back. He come high steppin' through Ridgetop, dressed in his finest and training that long, silvery wind cape behind him. Swoosh! Swoosh! Swoosh!

The cakewalk is a couples dance that originated in America around 1900. According to the African American Registry, it was created as a way for Black slaves to make fun of their White masters' ballroom dances. But rather than attempting to explain the dance any more myself, I thought I would turn to someone who knows best. In a note at the front of Mirandy and Brother Wind, author Patricia C. McKissack explains it like this:

First introduced in America by slaves, the cakewalk is a dance rooted in Afro-American culture. It was performed by couples who strutted and pranced around a large square, keeping time with fiddle and banjo music. As the dancers paraded by, doing flamboyant kicks and complicated swirls and turns, the elders judged them on appearance, grace, precision, and originality of moves. The winning couple took home a cake.

One of the most exciting parts of our day at the Atlas Performing Arts Center last weekend was meeting illustrator Jerry Pinkney, who attended the performance and participated in some pre-show and after-show events. In case you aren't familiar with Mr. Pinkney's work, he is one of the most celebrated children's illustrators out there, most recently recognized with a Caldecott Medal for the wordless picture book The Lion and the Mouse.

As a little side note, my husband is into photography and so bought our six-year-old a camera for her birthday earlier this year. She had it with her last weekend, so we asked Mr. Pinkney to pose for a photograph. He told my daughter to look at the photo closely. "Do you see me, or do you see Brother Wind?" he asked. 

This of course piqued my interest, and it turns out that when Mr. Pinkney was illustrating Mirandy and Brother Wind, he asked his wife Gloria Jean Pinkney (who is also an author) to take pictures of him "being" Brother Wind. My understanding is that he then used the photos to help develop the character. So, in a way, Brother Wind is a self-portrait of sorts. Such a fun anecdote, I thought.

The musical Mirandy and Brother Wind was produced by Adventure Theatre in collaboration with African Continuum Theatre and the Dance Institute of Washington. It's running at the Atlas Performing Arts Center through March 13th, in case you live in the Washington, DC, area and want to try and catch a show. I highly recommend it! 

My Giveaway

I was so excited (and honored) to meet Jerry Pinkney that I had him sign an extra copy of Mirandy and Brother Wind for one of my blog readers, whom I am so grateful to have. If you would like a chance to own the book, just comment on this post by Saturday, March 12th. I'll use to choose an entry, and I'll announce the winner on Sunday, March 13th. Good luck!

© Valerie Russell/RussellVisual

More about the Musical 

More about Jerry Pinkney


  1. WOW, I'd love to win - he's amazing, I'm a huge fan!

  2. Oooo this is really neat! :)

  3. Sounds like you had a good time!

  4. This story sounds wonderful! It has all the elements to make a great dance/movement class from the dynamics and pathway of the wind, to a history lesson and learning a formal dance with more linear use of space. I would love to win this book for my classes!! Thanks for an interesting post.

  5. Thanks, Melissa, Maria, Nichole, Samantha, and Phyllis for stopping by. Samantha, I love your ideas for incorporating this book into a dance class. When I read it, it never crossed my mind that it could be used in a class. But now that I think of it, even if the book itself can't be used, the themes of the book could certainly inspire movement. And they certainly did in the musical! Thanks for your comment...

  6. Can't wait to read this story! I'll buy it if I'm not lucky enough to win it. Thanks for the opportunity.

  7. Hi, Linda. So nice of you to stop by. I'm glad the book looks interesting to you. I'm usually finding out about all the "new" books out there, so it was nice to discover this older book and learn more about its history...and the history behind its making :)

  8. Congratulations, Linda!! selected you as the winner of Mirandy and Brother Wind! If you leave me your mailing address in a comment (which I'll delete), I will mail you the book this week.

    Thanks to everyone who entered! Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

  9. Thanks so much - I'm so excited to read this book and of course, share it! I can't seem to direct message you back with my addy twitter says because you don't follow me.

  10. Hi Kerry! I'm stopping by to say hello. It's me, Pam Smallcomb! :) Sounds like you had a wonderful day with your kids. Since I have a couple of signed books from him, skip me in your draw. So good to see you the other day! xo Pam

  11. Hi, Pam!! So nice of you to stop by! I told Steven you said hello, and he remembered you :) It was so great to see you the other day, too. Hopefully we can meet up again at the next conference. Have a great weekend!


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