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Beatlemania! A Beatles booklist

Yesterday, February 9th, marked the fiftieth anniversary of The Beatles’ famous Ed Sullivan Show performance — their first U.S. appearance and the beginning of the British Invasion. Here, from us to you, is a list of Beatle-centric books recommended by The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide.


beatlesIn The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny), Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer tell the story not just of international superstars but of friends who made one another laugh. Stacy Innerst’s illustrations portray the lads with exaggerated features, all legs and bowl-cut hair, their ample noses serving to distinguish one from the others. Youngsters wondering why the band is still beloved by their parents and grandparents will understand after reading the humorous anecdotes. (Harcourt, 2013)



rappaport_john's secret dreamsDoreen Rappaport’s ambitious picture book biography John’s Secret Dreams: The Life of John Lennon reveals plenty of research and her affinity for her subject. The text describes pivotal moments in Lennon’s life, interspersing lines from his songs in larger colored type. Bryan Collier’s collage art is full of motion, with some psychedelic sixties colors added to the predominant brown. A list of important dates, a selected discography, and selected research sources are appended. (Hyperion, 2004)

spitz_yeah! yeah! yeah!In Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles, Beatlemania, and the Music That Changed the World, Bob Spitz uses material from his adult biography The Beatles: A Biography to dramatically tell the story of the Fab Four, from the day in 1957 when John met Paul to superstardom to the official breakup of the band. Intimate black-and-white photos, quotes (uncited), sidebars, and trivia contribute to a lively portrait of what the Beatles, at their inception, really were — teenagers. A discography is included. (Little, Brown, 2007)



behnke_death of a dreamerAlison Marie Behnke’s Death of a Dreamer: The Assassination of John Lennon begins with the announcement of Lennon’s death on December 8, 1980, then adeptly presents two chronological biographies of Lennon and Mark David Chapman and comes full circle with a more detailed telling of the events leading up to the assassination. Black-and-white photographs, sidebars, and first-hand accounts enhance and extend a well-researched, engaging narrative. (Twenty-First Century, 2012)

bellstorf_baby's in blackIn the quiet, atmospheric biographical graphic novel Baby’s in Black: Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and The Beatles (trans. by Michael Waaler), author/illustrator Arne Bellstorf depicts the brief, intense love affair between Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe — the man known as “The Fifth Beatle.” The illustrations’ bleak mood befits both Hamburg’s underground music scene and the couple’s doomed relationship, but the seriousness does not undercut the authenticity or passion behind this real-life love affair. (Roaring Brook/First Second, 2012)

Beram_YokoThere’s no Yoko-bashing in Yoko Ono: Collector of Skies; Horn Book Guide reviewer Nell Beram and co-author Carolyn Boriss-Krimsky paint an engaging and sympathetic portrait of the rock-‘n’-roll wife as a groundbreaking avant-garde artist in her own right — and way ahead of her time. Copious quotations and photographs support the authors’ claims. (Abrams/Amulet, 2013)

Book Award covers.John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth follows the life of the prolific musical genius. Author Elizabeth Partridge contextualizes the Beatles’ rise and disbanding with enough background information, both politically and musically, to illuminate the chaotic world behind the top ten charts. Quotes are fully attributed in extensive footnotes. Thoughtfully chosen, well-placed black-and-white photos on nearly every page project a visual commentary that adds substantively to an accessible text. (Viking, 2005)

raymer_how to analyze the music of paul mccartneyFrom a clear definition of critical theory and its purpose to practical applications, Miles Raymer’s How to Analyze the Music of Paul McCartney [Essential Critiques] is a worthy introduction to music analysis, critical thinking, and thesis development. The book begins with a biographical sketch of Paul McCartney followed by discussion of his work through four different critical lenses (e.g., listener-response, historical criticism). A “You Critique It” assignment provides additional guidance. (ABDO, 2010)

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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