Lyrically narrated, resplendently illustrated, and deeply respectful of both subject and audience.

SPIRIT SEEKER

JOHN COLTRANE'S MUSICAL JOURNEY

In attuned counterpoint, Golio and Gutierrez present a portrait of John Coltrane’s lifelong quest to discover and share his spiritual truth through music.

Beginning with John’s 12th year, Golio traces his religious roots: Grandfather Blair, a Methodist minister, headed a household that included John’s parents, aunt and cousin. Within two years, his grandparents, father and uncle died, splintering the family. In one bright spot, a pastor began a community band, leading to a borrowed sax and lessons for John. His musical gift bloomed amid loneliness and setbacks. Touring’s pressures led to alcohol and drug dependence. Golio continuously weaves such biographical details into the tapestry of spiritual longing that characterized Coltrane’s life. “He began falling asleep onstage. Or showing up late, only to be fired. Part of him stood in the darkness, while another part was searching for the light.” Gutierrez’s full-bleed acrylic paintings pulse with emotional intensity and iconic religious images; Coltrane is often shown with a halo or wings. Expressionist color channels Coltrane’s psychic life: His hobby-filled childhood is sweet potato pie–sunny; a scene of drug withdrawal is moonlit black. Portraits of jazz influences—Dizzy, Duke, Bird—appear throughout. Coltrane’s spiritual apex, a vision coinciding, Golio notes, with the development of his masterwork, A Love Supreme, is depicted with John meditating, Buddha-like against glowing pink.

Lyrically narrated, resplendently illustrated, and deeply respectful of both subject and audience. (afterword, author’s and artist’s notes, bibliography, discography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-23994-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship.

MARCUS MAKES A MOVIE

Marcus, obsessed with making comics, finds new ambitions for his superhero character Toothpick when he joins an after-school filmaking club.

Always-working comedian Hart enters the children’s-literature world with this middle-grade novel uplifting one of the profound life lessons that helped catapult him to global superstardom. It’s certainly not a biography, but one can see the shades of reality, with a young Black boy who’s short and funny making his way into film. Marcus’ gift for storytelling is nurtured by his love of making comics (represented visually throughout by Cooper). Readers come to understand how these creative acts help process stress and grief via striking conversations between Marcus and his loving father that also show the critical importance of developing emotional language. After an inspiring first day of film class, Marcus declares that he will make the most awesome movie ever—but there’s a gigantic difference between making comics and making a movie: You can’t make a movie alone. He’s going to have to work with peers who challenge him. Through Marcus’ experiences, young readers will learn about the many different concepts, tools, and techniques that are part of the behind-the-camera filmmaking endeavor. Unfortunately, lumping Toni Morrison in with William Shakespeare as just another “dead author” is a distasteful moment in an otherwise enjoyable read. The book adheres to a Black default.

A charming read that demystifies the work of making a movie and celebrates the gifts of authentic friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17914-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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