Cover Image: Sing Freedom!

Sing Freedom!

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Member Reviews

I love when authors give from their hearts and souls and produce a children’s book.  This educational children’s picture book, by Author Vanita Oelschlager, comes to us from a small country called Estonia, which gained their freedom when they separated from the Soviet Union.  What astonishes and encourages me, is that freedom was not won with guns and violence, but instead with the hearts and voices of its’ people.  Estonia is a grand example peaceful protests to enact change.

The hand drawn illustrations were very helpful in giving a visual image of where the country is and what the Estonians went through gaining, loosing, then regaining their freedoms.

I appreciate the glossary, notes on the author and illustrator, details about how the illustrations of this book were created, and the maps of the country.

This book would be a nice addition to a history (or even art) learning module in an elementary or middle school.  Additionally, children could gain an appreciation for our freedoms that we often take for granted in the United States of America.  

I want to thank Author Vanita Oelschlager, Illustrator Mike DeSantis, Vanita Books, and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this Advanced Reader’s Copy. This is a voluntary review, and all comments and opinions are entirely my own.
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Sing Freedom! was an unexpected book about Estonia and its revolution. I really enjoyed learning about this part of history and that singing was part of its non-violent revolution. Great illustrations
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An interesting and inspiring bit of history about a country I didn't even know much about,  Brings to mind current  peaceful protests that will hopefully bring change to my country and across the world.
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Pros: As a lover of music and group singing I was interested to learn this part of Estonia's history and how singing played a role in its nonviolent revolution. What a lovely thing for children (and adults) to learn about! The illustrations in this book are wonderful.

Cons: This is a not a con but I do recommend that younger children read this with an adult because there is a bit more text than I expected and children will likely have questions about the revolution and other big ideas mentioned in this book.

Thank you to NetGalley and Vanita Books for the opportunity to read this book.
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Author Vanita Oelschlager has written a lovely picture book about the invasion and subsequent liberation of Estonia, which abuts Russia — always a precarious position. Just as “We Will Overcome” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” inspired the Civil Rights activists, Estonian patriots used “Land of My Fathers” to organize and inspire their compatriots. One-fourth of Estonia’s population showed up to one Estonian festival to sing Estonian songs — including “Land of My Fathers” — and protest Soviet rule. At one point, 1 million people from the three Baltic nations — Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia — joined hands to create a human chain to peacefully protest for their independence. That came in 1991 in a bloodless coup. What an inspiration!

The translated words to “Land of My Fathers” is in the book, but you can listen to this beautiful song sung by thousands and thousands. here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHOIN_vsGSA&ab_channel=EgerKaks
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This is a story that Upper Elementary students can appreciate. They love collecting "did you know?" stories to share at home and with kids in other classes, and the idea that a country gained independence through song is pretty interesting trivia.
It is not my favorite by this author or illustrator, but it's still a great addition to a home or classroom library.
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This was an okay read it personally just wasn't my favorite but the overall theme was really great for younger children along with the beautiful illustrations.
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This was an interesting story about a peaceful form of Revolution that I was not aware of happening. The book starts out by explaining the USSR and the small countries that were put under the control of Stalin. I appreciate the fact that they explained the hardships of life under the USSR while keeping the information very kid friendly. I had never heard of the story of the Estonian people using music to create their own form of revolution against the oppressive regime. It is sad that it still took so long for the people to get their freedom, but I love the tradition that has continued for so long, of singing patriotic songs that bring a connection and love for their community in a way that nothing else really can. Music is powerful, and this story is evidence of how that power can change the minds and moods of people, even in the darkest situations.
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What a beautiful book! The illustrations are really well done and fit the text so very well.

Sing Freedom by Vanita Oelschlager and illustrated by Mike DeSantis is a perfect book to explain how freedom, once lost, is so very difficult to regain. This book covers a major political event very well, with just enough information to teach, but not too much to overwhelm. A glossary in the back gives more details on new people and places. Another page in the back shows the steps the illustrator takes to create the art, which is a fascinating peek into the artistry behind picture books. I can easily see this being a favorite page for those students who love to sketch. A bare-bones map of Europe shows all of the countries in relationship to each other, helpful in a time when geography is not taught any longer in many elementary schools.

Full disclosure: I knew practically nothing about Estonia, so I found this book very informative, even as an adult!

As a veteran middle school language arts teacher, one of the things I loved to do was to pair a picture book with a grade-level novel. For example, before reading Esperanza Rising, the story of a once wealthy Mexican girl who loses everything and must be secretly smuggled across the border with her mother and their trusted servants. Once in California she must learn things like sweeping and cooking as her mother works alongside their former servants picking and packing fruits and vegetables in the fields. Before reading, I would have the students read picture books of immigration and the difficulties people from war-torn countries faced both at home and here in their new home. Sing Freedom! would be a great picture book to pair with a YA novel about the Cold War and the Iron Curtain. 

Interesting side note: the back jacket of the book tells of a film about the "Singing Revolution". This would be a great cross-curriculum, multi-media experience to watch the film, read the book, and study the map of Europe, learn more about the break-up of the Soviet Union, and finish with learning the national song of Estonia, "Land of My Fathers."
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The text is very info-heavy so it won't work for really young kids, but it does an effective job of condensing Estonian history and communicating it, and it meshes well with the illustrations.
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I can honestly say, prior to reading this book, the only thing I knew about Estonia was the name. This is a short, interesting book and I enjoy learning about other places and I think others will as well. I would love to read more books like this about other places.
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I learned so much about the history of Estonia. I don’t think I’ve ever read about Estonia. It made me want to learn more. I’d buy this for my classroom.
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This is a story about the small country of Estonia and how they gained their freedom. I could see reading this to my kids when we go back to studying world cultures in our homeschool.
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Gaining Freedom in Estonia

This is straight-up children's nonfiction that explores the recent history of Estonia, from the time of Soviet occupation and rule to when it became independent. The book stresses the importance of song and how it actually made a difference for the people during Soviet rule and as they fought to be free. The book also shows the effectiveness of nonviolent protest as well. Since this is a children’s book, I would have loved to have seen this told in story form, perhaps following one family as they partook in certain historical events that helped foment change in Estonia. Still, this is interesting history and certainly let's children know that something as seemingly inconsequential as a song can make a difference as well as the importance and long-lasting effects of peaceful protest.
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I requested and received an e-ARC of this book from Vanita Oelschlager and Vanita Books through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book was awesome!  It is a non-fiction book about Estonia and its nonviolent fight for freedom from the Soviet Union.  I have been to Estonia’s capital Tallinn and have witnessed firsthand how beautiful this medieval city and their culture is and I still learned a lot about the history and traditions of this small country.
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Sing Freedom! By Vanita Oelschlager is a very interesting book that taught me a lot about Estonia that I didn’t know before. This is a great way to teach a child about history without the brutality that was so prevalent in other countries. It is fascinating to see how they peacefully won their independence. The illustrations accompany the story well without distracting from it.
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Sing Freedom! by Vanita Oelschlager is an interesting little picture book. The story tells the history of Estonia, a nation trying to gain it's freedom. Although this book is considered a children's book, it tells a powerful story that anyone will learn from. I knew very little about the nation that is now known as the freest nation in the world. 

What an incredible book to help children learn, connect with history and discover a new place.

The text was ideal- a great word count, each sentence was meaningful and rich. The illustrations fit perfectly with the story, although not as colorful as most children's books. This would make a great addition to any classroom or library. 

The publisher provided an ARC through Netgalley. I have voluntarily read this book for review, giving my honest personal opinions and thoughts
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Here's another from the Oelschlager oeuvre, this time illustrated by DeSantis. The story is a true one: of the singing victory of the Estonians over the overbearing Soviet Union as it was known back then (but it was really all Russia). Estonia (called Eesti in Estonian) is one of the Baltic states, and it sits between the other two (Lithuania and Latvia) and the sliver of Baltic sea that separates Estonia from Finland. After World War 2 (like one wasn't more than enough), Russia began subsuming the smaller European nations along its border, and trying to grind them under its heels into subservience.

Estonia was one of the 14 such nations that resented this and always sought to recover its own identity and freedom. They did this in many ways, but in part, it was achieved through a five-yearly festival of song, where they rebelled by singing a nationalist Estonian song, which the Russians did not like. The Estonians would not give up and in the end, they found their freedom during Mikhail Gorbachev's reign.

This book tells a colorful and enjoyable story about this great and peaceful success, and is well worth reading.
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This is a shirt book about an important part in history of Estonia. The story with help of beautiful pictures tells about power of music on the way to the country's freedom.
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Sing Freedom! is a beautiful telling of how the people of Estonia peacefully sang their way to freedom from the Soviet Union. This book tells the story clearly for the suggested age range. The illustrator did a wonderful job with the art and color palette and it paired nicely with Oelschlager’s story telling. The book was beautiful and informative and would be a perfect addition to any child or school’s library.

Loved: The About the Art page at the back was a pretty cool addition.
Disliked: There wasn’t anything that I disliked about this book.

I would totally gift/recommend this book for any child (curious about history or not), school or class libraries, and even adults who love picture books.

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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