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ELVIS by Bonnie Christensen


The Story of the Rock and Roll King

by Bonnie Christensen ; illustrated by Bonnie Christensen

Pub Date: April 21st, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9447-3
Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Brief poems present the childhood and youth of the King of rock ’n’ roll.

Readers learn immediately that Elvis grew up in another time: “Things were different back then. / One door for blacks, another for whites.” Free verse describes how Elvis lived a tough life and soaked up the music that was all around him—gospel, country, blues. His family was poor and moved often. A shy kid, Elvis found his voice through music, first at church, then at a talent show and later as a recording artist. Once he began working with Sam Phillips of Sun Records and his version of “That’s All Right” hit the radio, there was no turning back; he was on the road to becoming a legend. Christensen lauds Elvis as a musical hero, the pioneer who bridged the worlds of black and white music. It is interesting to note, however, that African-Americans appear only on a single page, in photographs on the walls of the recording studio. Christensen’s technique, painting on scanned photographs, helps tell the story by creating distinctive images that feel like glimpses back in time. The flow of the presentation is occasionally interrupted by the switch between single-page illustrations and double-page spreads.

Despite some missteps, adult Elvis fans will be thrilled to share this book with children.

(author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)