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I and I Bob Marley

I and I Bob Marley

5.0 1
by Tony Medina, Jesse Joshua Watson (Illustrator)
A biography in verse of reggae legend Bob Marley, exploring the influences that shaped his life and music on his journey from rural Jamaican childhood to international superstardom.


A biography in verse of reggae legend Bob Marley, exploring the influences that shaped his life and music on his journey from rural Jamaican childhood to international superstardom.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This lyrical picture-book biography of the reggae icon tells his story in verse, from humble beginnings in a small Jamaican village to his glory days as an influential musician. Told in first person (the "I and I" can mean "we"), 17 poems chronologically plot Marley's life path-combined, the poems (and vibrant acrylics) paint a vivid picture of the poverty and turmoil but also the love, faith and island beauty from which Marley arose. "At Fourteen" describes his entrée into the music scene with Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs and others, while "Island Song" is a rebuke of Jamaican oppression. "Yell-ow green black and red/ I and I a natty dread/ African Arawak Taino/ I am from/ Slave ship mountains/ And Caribbean rum." While readers may not understand all the verses and terms, Medina's (Love to Langston) thorough endnotes will answer questions, e.g., what the term Babylon means. Watson's (Chess Rumble) majestic art powerfully evokes the people and places that had the strongest influence on Marley, as well as the power he himself would wield. Ages 8-12. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Medina's 17 poems form a framework for reflections on the work and life of Jamaican poet-musician and storyteller Bob Marley. The verses set the mood for the varying events of Marley's life, while notes at the end fill in the factual details of each piece. "I am the boy from Nine Miles" invites us to share his message and, "Stay awhile…" He tells of life with his Mama and his Grandpa when his Papa leaves them. Papa sends for him in Kingston and leaves him there again. By the time he is 14, he has begun his musical career. He becomes a Rasta man, playing reggae music, "A troubadour for every man…" Music is "a joyful noise that opens my heat like a flower." Potency dominates Watson's naturalistic acrylic visualizations of the poems. The large portrait on the jacket stares at us as it sings its message of Marley's life style. The poems are illustrated with the same intensity as they vividly depict settings, events, and personalities. We are inspired to seek out the music of this fascinating character. Notes add factual information and additional sources as well as the author's personal connection. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 4 Up

When Bob Marley died in 1981, he was a legend in the music world. He had taken the beat-driven music of his people, reggae, and placed it squarely on the world stage. As trite as the saying is, his music has lived on well beyond his death, and this biography in verse brings him to the forefront once again. Medina, clearly a fan, has created a series of poems that follow Marley's life from childhood through his death at age 36. Born a biracial child in poverty in Jamaica, Marley always felt uncomfortable about having a British father whom he saw as a member of the party of oppression. Marley knew he wanted to be a singer at a young age. Overcoming enormous obstacles, he attained what most can only dream of and used his fame and his Rastafarian religion to support his hope for peace in the world. Referencing Marley's songs again and again, the poems resonate with the artist's message throughout. Watson's arresting art sings of the highs and lows of Jamaica, both the abject poverty and the beauty of the island and its people. Copious back matter provides context for each of the songs/poems and helps neophytes understand the music and the man. Anyone interested in reggae music and its major voice will find this volume intriguing. Contemporary children, however, may need to be encouraged to read this book since Bob Marley is not someone they typically listen to.-Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

Kirkus Reviews
In Love to Langston, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2002), Medina paid homage to the Harlem poet Langston Hughes. His latest biography-in-verse celebrates another powerful master of words: Bob Marley. Early poems show Marley growing up on the Jamaican "farm of Nine Miles dust," struggling to understand his mixed heritage and absent father. Then, in "My Papa Sends for Me," a scared little boy of six boards a bus in the hopes of a better future, all the while crying "a hurricane of pain." Stories unfold in 17 individual poems as Marley learns the power of music, falls in love and ultimately shares his redemption songs with the world. Biographical elements sometimes stall the pace, but most verses scan smoothly in a relaxed, reggae style. Watson's light-soaked strokes of reds, greens and yellows saturate the pages with warmth and vitality. The irrefutable kind of reggae bursts forth with twinkling eyes and "dreads / a twirl." From love to politics to peace, Marley's music stirs the soul-as does this passionate collaboration. Detailed endnotes provide background, poem by poem. (Biography/poetry. 8-12)

Product Details

Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x (h) x 9.00(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

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I and I Bob Marley 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SleeBrown More than 1 year ago
This is a great book for any collector of Bob Marley memorabilia. A wonderful children's companion to beloved fans of his music, in simple and interesting illustrations. The end of the book gives a description of Bob's lyrics and the meaning of the stories he tells in each of his songs. Loved it!!