SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL

THE FOUNDERS OF ROCK & ROLL

Fourteen of the men and women at the roots of rock ’n roll are given star billing in this energetic, young, collective biography. The one-page introduction allows George-Warren to trace in broad strokes the mix of African rhythm, European melody, church, and field music that gave rise in the 1950s to rock music, and how rock music brought forth most of today's pop, from rap to country. Each one-page biographical sketch faces a full-page acrylic painting in Levine's naïf style, with oversize heads, flat decorative backgrounds, and three-dimensional frames. The text page has a small, related motif: a hill of blueberries for Fats Domino, a Teddy Bear for Elvis, the famed horn-rimmed glasses for Buddy Holly. The biographies are straightforward and hold odd nuggets of engaging information: that Carl Perkins and his band's car accident allowed Elvis to get a number-one hit with Perkins's "Blue Suede Shoes" or that the Rolling Stones' Keith Richards, as a teenager, was a big Chuck Berry fan. Some of the profiles are a bit sanitized, as there is no mention of Jerry Lee Lewis's many wives nor of Little Richard's homosexuality or James Brown's jail time. Children who have heard tell of the Bo Diddley beat or "Rock Around the Clock" will get the connection, and children who haven't will be fascinated by the stories and the music references. (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-05540-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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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 delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be...

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real.

Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuries-old Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.”

A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42843-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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