SHAKE RAG: From the Life of Elvis Presley by Amy Littlesugar
Kirkus Star

SHAKE RAG: From the Life of Elvis Presley

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An extraordinary picture book version of a piece of Elvis Presley's childhood. When he was eleven, his family moved near Shake Rag, the wrong side of the tracks, where blacks and poor whites lived. He knew he was considered white trash, but he had a secondhand guitar for company. Although his mother forbade the sound of blues in the house, the boy was exposed to gospel and blues with piano, tambourine, and guitar at the traveling tent church. When his family finally could move on, the boy played and sang a goodbye for his schoolmates, even those who had reviled him and broken his guitar strings. Littlesugar (Jonkonnu, 1998, etc.) has turned a hardscrabble youth into the rhythm of myth and the wail of the blues. Cooper's gorgeous illustrations are suffused with the magic light of myth, too: the preacher and the guitar man glow bronzed; Elvis's isolation and his rapture at the music shimmer; the rickety buildings and beat-up cars of Shake Rag are as soft-edged as old dreams. This book exalts the power of music, and because it's about such a legendary figure, it exerts an even greater hold.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Philomel