Musician Laura Veirs turns the spotlight on folk singer Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten for her debut picture book. Veirs traces the story of a girl who was meant to play music despite all the things going against her. Even the guitars weren’t made for a left-hander like Libba. But plucky Libba just “turned the guitar upside down and played it backwards.” It was this determination and innate musical ability that would have Libba composing probably one of her most famous songs “Freight Train” at a young age. And, only later on as a grandmother, after giving up music to tend to life, her talent would be discovered and shared with everyone. Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s stunning illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to Laura Veirs’s lyrical text, both paying loving tribute to the magnificent life of Libba Cotten.
Libba was one of 12 finalists chosen for the 2019 Pacific Northwest Book Award. The six winners were announced in January. nwbooklovers.org is posted blurbs from the committee for each of the shortlisted titles.