Four Liverpool lads determinedly dope out how to play their instruments and then make beautiful music together just in time for…Beatlemania!
Reich tells the oft-told tale one Beatle at a time—starting with John and ending with Ringo. She covers working-class origins, early love of rock ’n’ roll, learning how to play through trial and error (“[John] didn’t give a fig about wrong notes”), the formation of the Quarrymen, the watershed gig in Germany, and the release of the first singles. Gustavson (Sebastian Robertson’s Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story, 2014) keeps his focus on the Fab Four (Stuart Sutcliffe, Pete Best, and “Mr. Martin” get name checks but no face time) and traces their visual transformation from scruffy amateurs to dapper moppets. Reich leaves them not only poised for greatness, having “poured hundreds of hours of sweat, love, and teenage energy into their music,” but also “best of friends.” It’s an idealized picture, especially considering what came after; Kathleen Krull’s The Beatles Were Fab (And They Were Funny), illustrated by Stacey Innerst (2013), covers the group’s entire career, albeit in a nostalgic vein. Still, young readers may be intrigued by this grand and archetypal tale, and the closing cornucopia of Beatles books, audio, video, and websites will also help to fill in the blanks.
First steps on the long and winding road. (author’s note, endnotes, glossary) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)