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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 9 years, 11 months ago

20 October 2010 JIMI: SOUNDS LIKE A RAINBOW by Gary Golio and Javaka Steptoe, ill., Clarion, October 2010, 32p., ISBN: 978-0-618-85279-6


"Anger. He smiles

Towering in shiny metallic purple armor

Queen jealousy envy waits behind him

Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground

Blue are the life-giving waters taken for granted

They quietly understand

Once happy turquoise armies lay opposite ready

But wonder why the fight is on"

-- "Bold as Love" (one of my favorites back when Jimi was alive)


"Sometimes, Jimmy and his friends bicycled down to the lake, a magical place of deep green leaves and dark purple shadows.  They'd throw rocks in the water, listening to them plop and gurgle as they sank."All around there were birds singing, bees buzzing, and breezes whistling through the trees.  Above the clouds, airplane engines droned and whirred."With every sound, a color glowed in Jimmy's mind."


I love how JIMI: SOUNDS LIKE A RAINBOW -- a stunningly beautiful picturebook for older readers -- has been crafted.  The author immersed himself in biographies of Jimi Hendrix and developed a text consisting of a series of impressionistic scenes that connect to Hendrix's creativity and attentiveness as a child, his coming to own and play his first inexpensive instruments, his listening to the radio and working to duplicate what he hears, and his then moving beyond what existed in music to become an innovator and one of the greatest guitarists of all time.  Through the textual presentation of these scenes, readers also come to hear of the legendary rock and roll stars of the Fifties, and are treated to lengthy allusions of some of Hendrix's most famous compositions.


Visually, Javaka Steptoe employs mixed media to great effect -- notably utilizing plywood and stenciling --  in his development of inviting illustrations that are steeped in sound and color.  The illustrations are so appropriately unified through the use of purple (reminding me of how Prince similarly sought to invoke the spirit of Hendrix when he first burst onto the scene).


"Yes, as I said before, it's really groovy.  I'd like to bore you for about six or seven minutes and do a little thing uh.  Yeah.  Excuse me for a minute, just let me play my guitar, alright?  ...Right now I'd like to do a little thing uh by Bob Dylan.  That's his grandmother over there.  It's a little thing called 'Like a Rolling Stone.'"-- banter from Hendrix's performance at the Monterey Pop Festival, June 1967 (available for viewing on Youtube)


In terms of Hendrix's untimely death from a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol, the author -- who is a therapist in his other life -- helpfully includes resources in his end matter relating to substance abuse. 


(But, come on.  If we start determining which artists we are going to represent in our collections based upon their private lives and their alcohol/drug intake, then we're going to end up ignoring a lot of awfully famous guys -- from Renaissance painters and sculptors up through classic jazz royalty.) 


Lot's of kids dream of becoming rock stars.  Here is a story of how the childhood dreams, enthusiasm, and determination of one of those kids were the ingredients in the making of a legend.


Richie Partington, MLIS
Instructor, San Jose State University

School of Library and Information Science


FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.

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