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SHAKE, RATTLE & ROLL by Holly George-Warren


The Founders of Rock & Roll

by Holly George-Warren, illustrated by Laura Levine

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-618-05540-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

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)