Jimi Sounds Like A Rainbow

A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix
* This post is part of Nonfiction Monday
hosted today by Rasco From RIF *

Clarion Books (pub. 10.4.2010)
32 pages

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top 

              and Illustrator:  JAVAKA STEPTOE

C haracter: Jimi Hendrix, rock 'n' roll guitar player

O verview from the back cover:
     "Jimi Hendrix was a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. He was bold as love, and colorful as a rainbow. He was one of the greatest guitar players of all time. 
     But before he was all these things, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself an unusual question: Could someone paint pictures with sound?
     Told in vivid language and stunningly illustrated, this is a story of a talented child ... a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix - a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock 'n' roll... and set the world on fire."

T antalizing taste:
     "He had a rainbow of sounds at his fingertips, and he wanted to paint the world with them...
     Like no one before him, Jimmy Hendrix taught his guitar to sing, scream, laugh, and cry.  He learned to use it as an artist uses paint, creating new worlds with the colors of sound.
     To the heart and soul of the blues he added the restless energy of rock 'n' roll...
Dressed in the colors of the rainbow, he played for audiences far and wide, joining fiery sounds with tender feelings and painting the world with his songs."

and something more:  The picture book biography, Jimi Sounds Like A Rainbow recently received the 2011 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book award.  I enjoyed reading how illustrator Javaka Steptoe sought to reflect Jim Hendrix in his vibrant illustrations: "I thought about guitars - their sound, their vibrations, their look and feel - so I used plywood I found at The RE Store [in Seattle]. I thought about how Jimi saw the world and how that differed from other people's views, so I painted Jimi one way and his surroundings another way.  I thought about the depth and texture of his music, so I layered and used bright colors ... rainbow colors."
     As Javaka Steptoe also wrote in the Illustrator's Note, "To really know about a person, you have to do things that they did, and see the things they saw."  And that makes sense, given that he views himself as an observer.  When asked "What inspired you to draw?" (as posted by The Brooklyn Children's Museum), Javaka Steptoe answered with a wonderful anecdote about observing, "...I like observing things.  I like observing people ... and I find normal things interesting.  Maybe something is a particular color. Let me give you an example.  One day I was on a bus and I had a purple jacket on and khaki pants. A woman sat next to me, and she had a khaki jacket and purple pants ... I don't think she noticed. I don't think anyone else on the bus noticed. I just had to tap her on the shoulder, and she just laughed. So that's me."          
     And, that's why his art rings true with Gary Golio's lyrical text.

No comments: