Rhiannon Giddens has revealed the cover for her upcoming debut Candlewick Press picture book, Build a House, ahead of its Oct. 11 publication date.
Written as a song to commemorate the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, Build a House is illustrated by painter Monica Mikai, and tells the story of a people who would not be moved and the music that sustained them. Steeped in sorrow and joy, resilience and resolve, turmoil and transcendence, the debut offers a message for readers: honor your heritage, express your truth, and let your voice soar, even when your heart is heaviest.
“I released this song on Juneteenth in 2020 with the great Yo-Yo Ma. We made a socially distanced recording (very–there was an ocean between us!) and put it out on socials and that was that. A few days later, someone said the lyrics would make for a great children’s book. Fast forward two years and that children’s book is almost here! It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to work with my fantastic publisher Candlewick on this book, and a revelation to see what gifted artist Monica Mikai has done with this story,” said Giddens.
Build a House is the first of four children’s books Giddens has planned with Candlewick Press. The second scheduled book, We Could Fly, is slated for publication in fall 2023 and is based on “We Could Fly,” written with Dirk Powell, a dialogue between mother and daughter drawing on African folklore and celebrating resilience and love. It will be illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu.
The announcement follows the recent news of Giddens’ two Grammy nominations with her partner Francesco Turrisi: Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home and Best American Roots Song for “Avalon.” She is also looking forward to the long-awaited world premiere of her opera, “Omar,” later this year, and the very first tour of the Lucy Negro Redux ballet for which she composed the score.
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