Barbara Mitchell's Raggin' and America I Hear You, and Tom Streissguth's Say It With Music, are story-form biographies (there's a little dialogue) which make fine introductions to composers Scott Joplin, George Gershwin, and Irving Berlin, respectively, for intermediate grade readers. Part of the "Creative Minds Biographies." series.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5 These brief biographies of two well-known American composers will be satisfactory in libraries needing biographies for middle-grade readers. Mitchell's writing is clear, if a bit on the dry side, and fictionalizing is minimal in both books. The basic facts of each man's life are presented, although the brevity of the text does mean that much detail is omitted. Both men are presented in a positive light. The Gershwin book is the stronger of the two. Mitchell stresses the ``classical'' side of Gershwin's work, mentioning only a handful of his shows and songs. Mention of the Pulitzer Prize for Of Thee I Sing is limited to a ``More About. . .'' page at the end of the book. The book about Joplin compresses his New York years into a few pages, devoting most of its coverage to the very early years of his career in Sedalia, Mo. The mental illness that marred his last years is only hinted at (``his spirit was gone''), and his commitment to a mental hospital is left out entirely. Both books are illustrated with bland black-and-white drawings that are frequently awkward in execution. These are useful, if unexceptional, additions to biography collections. Elaine Fort Weischedel, Turner Free Library, Randolph, Mass.