This creative, impassioned, in-your-face biography is as on fire as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.



Smith gives light, air, and sound to the life story of an unparalleled musician who moved to his own rhythms.

Arranged in five multipage “verses” of poetry with an “outro” and “interlude” to reflect Hendrix’s blues, this fascinating biography offers a feast for the ear as Smith tells of Hendrix’s childhood rife with parental conflict, his mother’s traumatic departure, his father’s denigration of his music, and Hendrix’s need to escape a life of exclusion and ostracism. After flying with the Army’s Screaming Eagles, Hendrix often found himself at odds with his bands because of his individualism and drive to play solo. Smith describes him as “a git-tar magician, / a sonic tactician, / a Picasso with a pick / painting in the blues tradition.” Rodriguez’s artwork uses heavily saturated reds, yellows, and (appropriately) blues to create scenes that reveal how music-possessed Hendrix was. Whether illustrating a young Hendrix’s playing a broom as if it were a guitar or plucking “the fireworks exploding in his head,” Rodriguez’s gritty, oil-based woodblock paintings effectively capture Hendrix’s passion, drive, and genius. Smith describes wanting to conclude with a “moment of triumph…to celebrate the unique individual who inspired me.” And he does: With his “show-stopping tricks / …behind-the-back, between-the-legs, / teeth-plucking licks,” Hendrix set his guitar on fire and “showed the world / how to kiss the sky.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This creative, impassioned, in-your-face biography is as on fire as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. (author's note, biographical timeline, personal playlist, discography, references) (Picture book/biography. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4333-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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From award winner Telgemeier (Smile, 2010), a pitch-perfect graphic novel portrayal of a middle school musical, adroitly capturing the drama both on and offstage.

Seventh-grader Callie Marin is over-the-moon to be on stage crew again this year for Eucalyptus Middle School’s production of Moon over Mississippi. Callie's just getting over popular baseball jock and eighth-grader Greg, who crushed her when he left Callie to return to his girlfriend, Bonnie, the stuck-up star of the play. Callie's healing heart is quickly captured by Justin and Jesse Mendocino, the two very cute twins who are working on the play with her. Equally determined to make the best sets possible with a shoestring budget and to get one of the Mendocino boys to notice her, the immensely likable Callie will find this to be an extremely drama-filled experience indeed. The palpably engaging and whip-smart characterization ensures that the charisma and camaraderie run high among those working on the production. When Greg snubs Callie in the halls and misses her reference to Guys and Dolls, one of her friends assuredly tells her, "Don't worry, Cal. We’re the cool kids….He's the dork." With the clear, stylish art, the strongly appealing characters and just the right pinch of drama, this book will undoubtedly make readers stand up and cheer.

Brava!  (Graphic fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-32698-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.


The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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