When I mentioned there was a children's book about Hendrix to the teacher dressed like Jimi Hendrix for our "dress like a rock star" day at school a few weeks ago, everyone within earshot was stunned.
"A book for kids?"
The story of Hendrix's death has overshadowed his music. When one of the children asked the teacher if he was dressed as Michael Jackson, I wondered if any children at the school had even heard of Hendrix.
Golio tells Hendrix's story with poetic language and imagery.
With every sound, a colorDid Jimmy really see the world in this way or is this poetic license? This feels researched and informed thanks to the extensive list of research sources, the discography of music and videos, and website list included at the end.
glowed in Jimmy's mind
Blue was the whoosh of cool water splashing over rocks.
Orange and red, the crackling of a campfire.
Green, the rustle of a thousand leaves.
Golio imparts a great deal of information about Hendrix's life without resorting to a dry narration of facts. We understand there is no mother in the boy's life through the descriptions of his relationship with his father.
At night, he'd listen to Dad croon along withJimmy was fascinated with all kinds of sound and his imagination saw colors in the noises and rhythms of the city and nature. The boy was also an artist, often sketching and painting. A self-taught guitarist, his music took off in a whole new direction when he acquired an electric guitar and discovered how amps and guitar strings could be used to create a unique sounds.
gospel, jazz or blues reconrds on the old
phonograph. A song by Muddy Waters--with
its wailing guitar and harmonica--set off
fireworks in his mind.
Javaka Steptoe's artwork startles and compels the reader to look deeper into the pictures. His illustrator's note describes his process of delving into the music and the neighborhood of Jimmy's childhood. For his canvas, he used plywood from the Seattle (Hendrix's childhood home) RE Store, an emporium of salvaged and reclaimed building materials. These pictures are vibrant collages of plywood and paint and photo prints. The rough texture and grain of the plywood plays under paint that is a translucent wash in some areas and a thick layer in others. On the last, two-page, vertical spread, Steptoe's boyish Jimmy evolves into Jimi and the final iconic image of Hendrix from posters and album covers, He renders the musician in purple (Purple Haze?)
The author addresses Hendrix's death honestly and in a straight forward manner in the author's note. He focuses on substance abuse and addiction as a disease that people can recover from with help. He draws on his own years as a counselor in the discussion and points to several websites that help families and children understand the issue and find assistance. His comments would be a comfort and useful to young people who are facing similar problems themselves or in their family.