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From The Guide: Celebrating Music

ajmera_music everywhereTroy Andrews’s Trombone Shorty, for which Bryan Collier took home the 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (read his acceptance speech), is an inspirational musician’s-origin story. It’s also a celebration of music’s power to transform and uplift performers and to open doors. For more books to foster a love of and respect for music for young children, turn to any of these titles recommended in recent and forthcoming issues of The Horn Book Guide.

—Katrina Hedeen
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Ajmera, Maya, Elise Hofer Derstine, and Cynthia Pon  Music Everywhere!
32 pp.     Charlesbridge     2014     ISBN 978-1-57091-936-7
Paperback ISBN 978-1-57091-937-4
e-book ISBN 978-1-60734-670-8

Gr. K–3  The title conveys this book’s straightforward message: music is a universal pleasure, everywhere from Canada to Timor-Leste. Proof is demonstrated by a simple yet energetic running text and large photos of children exuberantly making and enjoying music worldwide. Direct captions impart information uncondescendingly: “Playing a traditional Andean zampoña. PERU.” A world map and suggestions for homemade musical instruments are included. Glos.

Deans, Karen  Swing Sisters: The Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm
32 pp.     Holiday     2015     ISBN 978-0-8234-1970-8

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Joe Cepeda. This book recounts the highs (performing for soldiers overseas) and lows (dealing with Jim Crow laws in the South) for the Sweethearts, an all-female jazz band started in 1939 at a school for African American orphans in Mississippi. Lively paintings highlight the band members’ resilience. Pair this with Marilyn Nelson’s Sweethearts of Rhythm (for a slightly older audience). Websites. Bib.

Hood, Susan  Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay
40 pp.     Simon     2016     ISBN 978-1-4814-3095-1
e-book ISBN 978-1-4814-3096-8

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Children living in destitution on a landfill in Paraguay are offered music lessons by environmental engineer Señor Chavez. Since “it wasn’t safe” to have expensive instruments, Chavez fashions instruments out of trash; the kids’ “Recycled Orchestra” goes on to international acclaim. Illustrator Comport combines many techniques to create gorgeous, layered art that captures this remarkable, inspiring true story’s essence. An author’s note adds details. Websites.

Orgill, Roxane  Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
42 pp.     Candlewick     2013     ISBN 978-0-7636-6459-6
Paperback ISBN 978-0-7636-6458-9

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Candlewick Biographies series. New ed., 2010. In jazzy prose, Orgill tells of young Ella’s sad childhood and up-from-her-bootstraps rise to fame. Interspersed in the main text are lyrics from songs Fitzgerald made her own (e.g., “A Tisket, A Tasket”), giving the volume an improvised feel. Qualls’s acrylic, pencil, and collage illustrations hum with the energy of a night out in Harlem. This “reformatted edition” includes a list of recommended recordings. Reading list, websites. Ind.

Richards, Keith  Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar
32 pp.    Little/Tingley     2014     ISBN 978-0-316-32065-8

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Theodora Richards. With Barnaby Harris and Bill Shapiro. In a picture-book memoir, the Rolling Stones’ guitarist and songwriter recollects his childhood introduction to the guitar, courtesy of his doting and eccentric grandfather, Gus. Richards has an ear for the music in a sentence, and his daughter shows blooming talent with her pen-and-ink sketches splashed with color. Keith Richards reads his tale on the accompanying CD.

Seven, John  Frankie Liked to Sing
32 pp.     Abrams     2015      ISBN 978-1-4197-1644-7

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Jana Christy. Seven concentrates on Sinatra’s formative years in Hoboken — where Frankie’s mother, who supported his early passion for singing, lined up gigs for him around town — and concludes with Sinatra’s radio and film successes. A well-paced narrative and energetic illustrations with warm color washes convey Sinatra’s unique appeal: “Frankie’s voice was like a reassuring pat on the back.” An author’s note includes song suggestions. Bib.

Slade, Suzanne  The Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue
40 pp.     Boyds/Calkins     2016     ISBN 978-1-62979-099-2

Gr. K–3  Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. Slade traces Gershwin’s early talents and rise to fame as a “daring” composer who wove together myriad musical forms with city sounds, building toward the triumph of the composition and first performance of a “musical kaleidoscope of America’s melting pot — Rhapsody in Blue.” Swirly acrylic paintings and hand-lettering in a palette of almost all blues perfectly visualize the “razzmatazz dazzling” music. Author’s note included. Timeline. Bib.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.

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