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Jimi - Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix    by Gary Golio & Javaka Steptoe order for
Jimi - Sounds Like a Rainbow
by Gary Golio
Order:  USA  Can
Clarion, 2010 (2010)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Mom and dad may know who Jimi Hendrix was, but there's a slim chance that the young members of the family will remember this rock icon from the 1960s. This picture book for readers between the ages of six and nine will serve as an introduction to this musician and his legendary, but short, career.

Hendrix's youth is the main focus of this book that introduces a boy who loved to draw, paint and listen to music in his native Seattle, Washington. Jimi graduated from playing air guitar with a broomstick to mastering a real guitar his dad purchased for him from a neighbor for $5.

'Now he had an instrument of his own. Night after night, he'd sit alone in his room. Plunk, plunk, plunking along for hours. He practiced and practiced, training his ears and hands. And each day he got a little better.'

Next, the boy acquired an electric guitar and joined a local band. And soon after that he began developing the unique sound that became his trademark. 'His playing became bold as lightning. Wild as the waves. Free as the wind through the trees.'

The full-color original art by Javaka Steptoe that is featured in this volume uses mixed media on recycled plywood to create some arresting visuals. This unusual approach will either attract readers or repel them. Personally, I found the art rather interesting, but I'm not convinced all readers will respond positively to it.

Unfortunately, I found the different families of type and the arrangement of the text more of a problem. Not only does it jump around the page just as Hendrix was wont to jump around the stage, but at times I fear younger readers will be confused and perhaps not be able to follow the narrative. In some instances it blends with the illustrations and they might miss it entirely.

Although ostensibly aimed at a young audience, in some respects this book may well appeal to a much older group of readers who won't be put off by the graphics and who will know why someone might wish to read about Jimi Hendrix.

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