Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 200,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
Register or subscribe today
Find more Read-alikes
Kids, put away your shiny pop songs and ask your folks to break out the vinyl. These picture-book biographies of classic music acts will fuel many parents’ (and grandparents’) nostalgia while enlightening little ones about the tunes that get mom and dad’s heads boppin’.
The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny). By Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer. Illus. by Stacy Innerst. 2013. Harcourt, $16.99 (9780547509914). Gr. 2–4.
A book or two (or thousand) has been published on the Beatles, but here’s a fresh angle: a picture book focusing on the Fab Four’s humor. Krull and Brewer trace the lovable Liverpudlians from their humble roots to their final days in the studio, pausing at each juncture to remind us of their wit. In her acrylic-and-ink illustrations, Innerst turns the mop tops into droll bobble heads and inserts nifty ideas throughout.
Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. By Keith Richards and others. Illus. by Theodora Richards. 2014. Little, Brown, $18 (9780316320658). K–Gr. 3.
Rolling Stones axe man Richards pairs with daughter Theodora to tell this quiet tale that begins with Mr. Richards’ grandfather Gus, an all-around musical sort who took young Keith on many a long, wandering walk around London, including a fateful stop at an instrument shop. With its fine-lined doodles atop large washes, Ms. Richards’ pastel illustrations have a whimsical, sophisticated quality. The closing biographical note should help drive home the story’s central theme: the potential big impact of life’s chance encounters.
Hello, I’m Johnny Cash. By G. Neri. Illus. by A. G. Ford. 2014. Candlewick. $16.99. (9780763662455). Gr. 3–6.
Though Johnny Cash might not be the most familiar name to the audience of this picture-book biography, Neri and Ford do an impressive job of painting a portrait of the Man in Black that emphasizes his hardscrabble beginnings and lifelong love of music. Parents eager to share Cash’s signature boom-chicka-boom rhythms with their kiddos will appreciate this eloquent introduction to the iconic musician.
Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her. By Amy Novesky. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley Newton. 2013. Harcourt, $16.99 (9780152058067). Gr. 2–5.
True to Billie Holiday’s life and music, the rhythmic free verse and bright pictures mix joy and melancholy in this picture-book introduction to the great jazz singer. Always distant from people, Holiday chose dogs as her closest companions, and her bond is strongest with a boxer, Mister. Kids will love the focus on the pet bond—“bittersweet,” just like Holiday’s voice—and many will want to hear her music.
Rock and Roll Highway: The Robbie Robertson Story. By Sebastian Robertson. Illus. by Adam Gustavson. 2014. Holt, $17.99 (9780805094732). Gr. 1–4.
Kids who like dancing around to their parents’ LPs may get a kick out of this insightful picture-book bio of rocker Robbie Robertson, member of the Band, a folk-infused rock group that once backed up Bob Dylan. Robbie’s epic journey begins with his early fascination with storytelling, which eventually turns him into a classic play-till-your-fingers-bleed fanatic. Gustavson’s realistic watercolors have an earthy grit just perfect for this story of the roots of Americana music.
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop. By Laban Carrick Hill. Illus. by Theodore Taylor. 2013. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (9781596435407). Gr. 2–4.
This picture-book biography introduces one of the unsung creators of hip-hop, Clive Campbell, who was born in Jamaica in 1955. When his family moved to the Bronx, he took up the name Kool Herc and created the innovative techniques behind hip-hop DJing—hip-hop wouldn’t exist without his flashes of inspiration. Aside from the bouncy bio of the book’s star, Hill also highlights the positive social force of hip-hop and the boundless energy of musical joy.
Register or subscribe today