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WHEN THE BEAT WAS BORN by Laban Carrick Hill Kirkus Star


DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop

by Laban Carrick Hill ; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III

Age Range: 4 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59643-540-7
Publisher: Roaring Brook

The origin of one of the most influential cultural movements in recent times—hip-hop—is presented through the story of DJ Kool Herc, the man who “put the hip hip hop, hippity hop into the world’s heartbeat.”

Young Clive fell in love with music as a child in Jamaica, watching a popular DJ unpack crates of records to set up for house parties. When he moved to the Bronx, Clive became Kool Herc, and when he had the opportunity to throw his own dance parties, he became DJ Kool Herc. Herc’s innovative style as a DJ, stretching the breaks in songs from seconds into minutes, allowed the creativity of others to erupt, such as break dancers, rappers and MCs. Hip-hop was born. Hill and Taylor have accomplished something special with this picture book, capturing the energy of the early hip-hop movement and presenting it in a manner that is accessible for children. The rhythm and balance of text make this an engaging read-aloud for young children, while the subject matter and animated style of the full-page illustrations will appeal to independent readers as well.

This effervescent celebration of the roots of hip-hop will make readers feel the beat. (author’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-9)