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The Seeds, Sound, and City That Grew Prince Rogers Nelson

by Angela Joy ; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2023
ISBN: 9781250797032
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Lavender-washed pages background this picture-book tribute to Prince.

Author Joy grew up in Prince’s childhood neighborhood in Minneapolis’ Northside and even performed with him once; her lyrical tribute to the groundbreaking Black musician is allusive and evocative, eliciting feelings rather than unreeling facts. “Shouts and silence, / slamming doors; / whispering lilacs, basement floors; / the thud of a basketball, / boom-boom; / the echo of lonely in / a crowded room.” Lines such as these paint a picture of an unnamed “beautiful boy” and a difficult childhood characterized by hunger and a constant shuffle from household to household. Basketball and, especially, music coaxed from a guitar lightened these “ordinary days.” Alcántara contributes vignettes of a small but recognizable Prince huddling beneath a piano or sleeping on a couch. These images of unsettled unhappiness are balanced by paintings of the young artist concentrating with his eyes closed over a guitar or piano, the lavender hues warming to purple with the introduction of red tones. A three-page author’s note furnishes any facts that the primary text elides; children content to mull over its moods can do so, while their caregivers can glean necessary context for when their little ones ask questions. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Children will come away with a hazy sense of Prince but a firmer grasp on the healing power of music in hard times.

(discography) (Picture-book biography. 5-8)