Summertime offers great opportunities for enjoying music. From summer concerts in the park and downtown to musical events and plays, opportunities to enjoy music abound. These books about music and musicians can help to make music a part of everyday life for young readers.
“How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz” by Johan Winter, Illustrated by Keith Mallett, 2015, Roaring Book Press, ages 5-8.
It’s been said that Mr. Jelly Roll Morton invented jazz, but no one knows for sure. Few would quibble that Jelly Roll was a key musician in New Orleans when words like stomp, swing, and ragtime described the music of the time. This picture book biography focuses on the highs and lows of Mr. Morton’s life as a major player in early jazz. Vivid acrylic painting illustrations convey the sense of despair and hope that were expressed through his music.
“Sing, Sing a Song” by Joe Raposo, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, 2013, Henry Holt, ages 3-6.
When a small bird needs a little extra encouragement to make his song heard, “Sing, Sing a Song” provides inspiration. This beloved children’s song, is brought to life through sweet and simple watercolor and pastel illustrations of soft colors. In the afterward, Joe Raposo’s son Nick tells of his father’s efforts to create a song for Sesame Street that speaks to courage and pride, and he shares a copy of the original handwritten lyrics. The hardcover version includes a CD of this and two other Sesame Street songs.
“Noisy Frog Sing-Along” by John Himmelman, 2013, Dawn Publications, ages 3-7.
Nature makes its own kind of music. “Noisy Frog” shares the cacophony of sounds in the outdoor symphony, including ribbit, bree, plunk, and meep. Readers are treated to names and illustrations of different types of frogs and toads, along with facts about habitats and unique characteristics.
“Elvis, The Story of the Rock and Roll King”, by Bonnie Christensen, 2015, Henry Holt, ages 5-9.
This picture book biography of Elvis presents his life from birth to the early days of his stardom. Focusing on Elvis as a boy and young man, both words and illustrations present a life of family, financial, and social challenges for this shy and polite musician. Rich and detailed illustrations are created from photo collage, emphasizing realistic details, then enhanced with oil painting to give a textured collage impression that heightens the details of the text.
“Want to Be in A Band?” by Suzzy Roche, Illustrated by Giselle Potter, 2013, Random House, ages 5-8.
For Suzzy Roche, a member of the folk-indie rock trio the Roches, musical inclinations began with her family. The three sisters began singing and playing together as young girls, performing first for family, then on street corners, in clubs, and then the stage. This story describes the process the trio took to create and share their own music and may inspire young readers to practice and develop their own musical talent.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler