Perfect Picture Book Friday – Jimi Sounds Like A Rainbow

Happy Perfect Picture Book Friday, Everyone!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?  I’m in a rush today because I’m going to be pretty busy this morning being nervous for my interview on the Take Your Talent To The Bank Virtual Conference – being nervous is incredibly time-consuming and I only have a few hours! 🙂
I have a great book to share today!
Jimi Sounds Like A Rainbow: A Story Of The Young Jimi Hendrix
Written By: Gary Golio
Illustrated By: Javaka Steptoe
Clarion Books, October 2010, Fact-based Fiction
Suitable For: publisher says ages 6 and up, I think maybe 7 or 8 and up
Themes/Topics: music, art, creativity, perseverance, pursuing dreams
Opening: “Seattle, Washington 1956.
Electricity ripped through the air.  A lightning flash lit up the room.  Thunder rocked the house.
     Jimmy’s hand jumped, and a rainbow of colored pencils went tumbling to the floor.
     Outside, the rain began trickling off the roof and plinking into the metal gutter.  Drops bounced onto the windowsill.  A breeze rippled the glass chimes on the porch.
     For a moment, Jimmy thought he head a woman’s name being blown on the wind.”
Brief Synopsis: Jimmy Hendrix (before he was Jimi :)) grew up in a boarding house in Seattle with his father.  In everything around him, Jimmy heard music – children’s laughter sounded like a squealing clarinet, a truck backfiring sounded like a bass drum, a rake on the sidewalk sounded like a snare.  “With every sound, a color glowed in Jimmy’s mind.”  He wanted to reproduce the things he heard and saw as music – to paint with sound – even though he owned nothing musical but a one-string ukelele and his voice.  He heard and saw the world differently from everyone else, and he wanted to color the world with his music.
Links To Resources: the back of the book has a list of resources about substance abuse (really only appropriate for older readers) and a fascinating illustrator’s note about how the illustrations for the book were researched and created which everyone can enjoy.  There is also a bibliography and a list of selected discography, CDs, videos, and DVDs.  Again, much of this would be appropriate only for older readers than the usual picture book audience.  Younger readers could try drawing what they think the sound of a song or piece of music looks like, or how it makes them feel.  You could discuss what color a tuba, a flute, or a guitar (or any other instrument) sounds like to you.  Why?  What instrument or group of instruments would be a good choice to represent bird song? Traffic?  Water? (or anything else you’d like to try :)) Why?
Why I Like This Book:  To be honest, I picked up this book because I was wondering how the author would manage to turn the Jimi Hendrix experience into a children’s picture book 🙂  The answer?  Very well indeed!  He focused on Jimmy’s early years, his creativity and passion, how his humble beginnings didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams.  The story is very inspiring.  The language is lyrical and musical, conveying beautifully the way Jimmy saw and heard the world.  “Notes spun from the strings, flickering in the air like fireflies.”  And the art is the perfect match for this story – wild and kaleidoscopic and colorful – the visual representation of Jimmy’s difference and creativity, and with young Jimmy very much in the forefront of every illustration.  The book ends with the lines: “Dressed in the colors of the rainbow, he played for audiences far and wide, joining fiery sounds with tender feelings and painting the world with his songs.”  It does not address his drug addictions or his tragic end, but the back matter of the book does.  So while the story is appropriate for younger readers, much of the back matter is really only suitable for an older audience, but for more mature readers, it’s good that it’s there.  The illustrator’s notes are fascinating for everyone.  The combined text and art make this book a terrific read!
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.
Now, I have some serious being nervous to do, so I will wish you all a happy weekend!  PPBF bloggers, please add your post-specific link to the list below.  I can’t wait to see what everyone else picked this week!  So many great books out there! 🙂