Reviews for Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow : A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix

Booklist Reviews 2010 November #1
Although Jimi Hendrix's music typically sits in the wheelhouse of teenagers discovering their countercultural streak, this picture book deigns to introduce the revolutionary musician to younger readers. By no means a straight bio, it describes his formative early life with lines like "A truck engine backfired, pounding like a bass drum, as a neighbor's rake played snare against the sidewalk. . . . The sounds of life were calling out, and Jimmy Hendrix wanted to answer them." It is, however, a convincing portrait of a boy who was electrified by music and heard the world very differently from anyone else; his single-minded drive to "paint with sound" in his own fashion will inspire young artists of all stripes. Steptoe's chaotic, textured artwork screeches in feedback wails on the page, filled with impressions in lieu of representations. Hendrix's struggle with drugs is addressed in an afterword, but as pure virtuoso, guitar heroes don't get any bigger, and readers with hands itching for frets will be entranced. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Golio ably introduces young readers to the rock legend by describing his humble childhood (he was raised by a cash-strapped single dad), first guitar (purchased from the landlady's son for $5), and creative drive ("He wondered: Could a person use music / like chalks and colored pencils?"). Steptoe accommodates the poetic, shape-shifting text in his heavily worked-over mixed-media illustrations. Websites. Bib. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 October #1

Golio examines Jimi Hendrix's childhood creativity as a nurtured progression that stoked an explosively influential expression in the '60s. From drawing, painting and coaxing the sounds of raindrops out of a one-string ukulele, Jimmy (he became Jimi as an adult) acquires a $5 acoustic guitar and then a cheap electric model, which was "to Jimmy... pure gold." Playing along with radio tunes, haunting Seattle record stores and devouring his father's jazz and blues LPs, Jimmy turns a curiosity into a passion. The author—an artist and clinical social worker—lucidly demonstrates that a path to creative excellence is not only possible for young people but self-actualizing. In a note, he writes candidly about Hendrix's addiction, offering prevention websites for children and teens. Steptoe's superb mixed-media illustrations consciously utilize dual techniques, echoing Jimi's artistic maturation. On reclaimed plywood, sketchy pastel cutouts float against brilliantly vivid, photo-collaged impasto. Outstanding in every way. (biographical note, author's note, websites, illustrator's note, bibliography, discography) (Picture book/biography. 6-11)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 October #1

Valuable lessons underlie newcomer Golio's account of Hendrix's life: important work can be done by young people; artistry develops slowly, through careful work; and surroundings that appear hostile to creativity can just as well nurture it. Golio describes the sonic landscape of Hendrix's youth--"A truck engine backfired, pounding like a bass drum, as a neighbor's rake played snare against the sidewalk"--and builds on Hendrix's discoveries with his guitar until his creations begin to satisfy him: "Jimmy was finally painting with sound!" He emphasizes the significance of Hendrix's friendships with two boys, Terry and Potato Chip, and the support of his father, who buys him a "new white Supro Ozark" electric guitar even when money is tight. Steptoe (Amiri and Odette) builds distinctive three-dimensional artwork by painting plywood portraits of Jimmy and his friends and stacking them on painted backgrounds. Vintage images like vinyl records and old packaging vie for attention; there's constant movement. The story ends at the height of Hendrix's success; an afterword gives a more detailed biographical sketch, and author/illustrator notes explain their connections to his story. Ages 6-9. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 September

Gr 4-8--Before he was famous, little Jimmy Hendrix tuned into a world colored with the sounds of the city outside the Seattle boarding house where he lived with his father. As a boy he strove to reproduce those sounds on his one-string ukulele, and eventually on a secondhand guitar. Golio's lyrical text sings with delicious description, and Steptoe's wildly colored mixed-media illustrations show the hues of the boy's imagination, with Hendrix always standing out from his surroundings. The story itself focuses on the musician's rise to fame, with a supplementary note and a bibliography providing more detailed background information. His tragic death is dealt with in a separate author's note, accompanied by a list of resources about substance abuse. A fascinating "Illustrator's Note" illuminates the process behind the intriguing artwork and underscores the book's theme of exploring the creative process. This book is likely to fascinate older children and reluctant readers who might be familiar with Hendrix's music, and could easily be tied into art and music curricula.--Kathleen Kelly MacMillan, Carroll County Public Library, MD

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