Patrick Gilmore was a mid-19th-century superstar who was the recognized initiator of the golden age of American band music.
He played music all his life, first in Ireland and then in the United States. He led numerous bands throughout New England, and he was a bandleader for a Massachusetts regiment in the Civil War. He made his real mark on the music scene several years after the end of the war, when, filled with optimism, he organized a huge celebration—a peace jubilee—to remind the nation that it was united again. It was to be so big and loud and grand that it would involve hundreds of musicians and singers, church bells, anvils, cannon and a new venue large enough to hold it all. Potter employs a direct, accessible narration to describe the years of painstaking preparation and carefully builds anticipation for the main event. Words that represent sounds stand out in large bold type of varying designs; they are incorporated into Tavares’ illustrations, rendered in softly hued watercolor, gouache, ink and pencil. Instruments “toot,” “shreet” and “waaa.” The thundering roars and booms can all be heard as if readers were right there listening. Fame is fleeting, and Gilmore has been overshadowed by Sousa and then forgotten, but Potter brings his achievements into focus again.
Lovingly evokes a lost time. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)