This creative, impassioned, in-your-face biography is as on fire as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar.

SONG FOR JIMI

THE STORY OF GUITAR LEGEND JIMI HENDRIX

Smith gives light, air, and sound to the life story of an unparalleled musician who moved to his own rhythms.

Arranged in five multipage “verses” of poetry with an “outro” and “interlude” to reflect Hendrix’s blues, this fascinating biography offers a feast for the ear as Smith tells of Hendrix’s childhood rife with parental conflict, his mother’s traumatic departure, his father’s denigration of his music, and Hendrix’s need to escape a life of exclusion and ostracism. After flying with the Army’s Screaming Eagles, Hendrix often found himself at odds with his bands because of his individualism and drive to play solo. Smith describes him as “a git-tar magician, / a sonic tactician, / a Picasso with a pick / painting in the blues tradition.” Rodriguez’s artwork uses heavily saturated reds, yellows, and (appropriately) blues to create scenes that reveal how music-possessed Hendrix was. Whether illustrating a young Hendrix’s playing a broom as if it were a guitar or plucking “the fireworks exploding in his head,” Rodriguez’s gritty, oil-based woodblock paintings effectively capture Hendrix’s passion, drive, and genius. Smith describes wanting to conclude with a “moment of triumph…to celebrate the unique individual who inspired me.” And he does: With his “show-stopping tricks / …behind-the-back, between-the-legs, / teeth-plucking licks,” Hendrix set his guitar on fire and “showed the world / how to kiss the sky.” (This book was reviewed digitally.)

This creative, impassioned, in-your-face biography is as on fire as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar. (author's note, biographical timeline, personal playlist, discography, references) (Picture book/biography. 8-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4333-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

  • National Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay.

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GHOST

From the Track series , Vol. 1

Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw feels like he’s been running ever since his dad pulled that gun on him and his mom—and used it.

His dad’s been in jail three years now, but Ghost still feels the trauma, which is probably at the root of the many “altercations” he gets into at middle school. When he inserts himself into a practice for a local elite track team, the Defenders, he’s fast enough that the hard-as-nails coach decides to put him on the team. Ghost is surprised to find himself caring enough about being on the team that he curbs his behavior to avoid “altercations.” But Ma doesn’t have money to spare on things like fancy running shoes, so Ghost shoplifts a pair that make his feet feel impossibly light—and his conscience correspondingly heavy. Ghost’s narration is candid and colloquial, reminiscent of such original voices as Bud Caldwell and Joey Pigza; his level of self-understanding is both believably childlike and disarming in its perception. He is self-focused enough that secondary characters initially feel one-dimensional, Coach in particular, but as he gets to know them better, so do readers, in a way that unfolds naturally and pleasingly. His three fellow “newbies” on the Defenders await their turns to star in subsequent series outings. Characters are black by default; those few white people in Ghost’s world are described as such.

An endearing protagonist runs the first, fast leg of Reynolds' promising relay. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5015-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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