From poor, blond boy to the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, Elvis Presley lived the classic rags-to-riches storybook life.
According to Winter’s heightened, poetic narrative, “singing is the reason / Elvis was brought into this world” and became the means by which he transcended his impoverished beginnings. He grew up singing in church, at the county fair, in the classroom with the guitar his mama had bought him, and, after the family moved to Memphis, in the high school talent show. Dyeing his hair black and donning colorful outfits from secondhand stores, Elvis developed a “LOOK AT ME” persona and dreamed of becoming “the biggest star in the world.” Stylized, information-packed narration broken into single-page “chapters” provides the platform for Red Nose Studio’s (aka Chris Sickels) eye-grabbing art. Information included inside the book jacket shows how he builds small, theaterlike sets from cardboard, wire, fabric, and found objects and characters’ heads out of polymer clay, then photographs them from various perspectives—from feet under a table in a diner to Elvis and his girlfriend sitting on a neon sign above the city. Illustrations reflect Elvis’ segregated South, the white boy’s African-American influences confined to one image of a black church and another of bluesmen on Beale Street. This story is all about his rise; the decline and ignominious end are omitted, even in the author’s note.
Readers will want to pore over this thoroughly engaging volume. (Picture book/biography. 5-10)