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

Overview

Jimi Hendrix was many things: a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound?
     This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a...

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Overview

Jimi Hendrix was many things: a superstar, a rebel, a hero, an innovator. But first, he was a boy named Jimmy who loved to draw and paint and listen to records. A boy who played air guitar with a broomstick and longed for a real guitar of his own. A boy who asked himself a question: Could someone paint pictures with sound?
     This a story of a talented child who learns to see, hear, and interpret the world around him in his own unique way. It is also a story of a determined kid with a vision, who worked hard to become a devoted and masterful artist. Jimi Hendrix—a groundbreaking performer whose music shook the very foundations of rock 'n' roll.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustrator

"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."—School Library Journal, starred review

"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."—Kirkus, starred review

"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."—Publishers Weekly

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Golio's rich text, filled with images and sounds, takes us back to the childhood of rock musician Hendrix in Seattle. Hendrix was not only "crazy about music" and involved with all the sounds around him. He was also drawing all the time. His good friends are not judgmental of Jimi's offbeat clothes or hair or his family's constant moving. Together they go to the record store or bicycle to the lake, as Jimi wonders about painting pictures with sound. When his dad buys him a guitar, he begins to try. Moving to an electric guitar, he finds he can create "new worlds with the colors of sound." Steptoe's intensely colored mixed media illustrations are demanding and visually complex. Pages are packed with Jimi and his friends as sort of cutouts in the foreground with posters, shadowy environmental shapes, and colorful symbols trying to become sounds for textured backgrounds. Sometimes the book must be turned on its side to follow the story. Along with additional factual information about Hendrix with sources, there are informative notes by both author and illustrator. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews

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)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618852796
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/4/2010
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 687,165
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.50 (w) x 10.60 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Gary Golio is the New York Times bestselling author of Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix. He has also counseled children and teens in the area of addiction. Gary lives with his wife, the author Susanna Reich, in Ossining, New York. To learn more, please visit www.garygolio.com.


Javaka Steptoe is a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award-winner who has created several books for children. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more, please visit www.javaka.com.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 21, 2010

    Highly recommended

    What I especially love about this story of the young Jimi Hendrix, is that it gives young people a glimpse into the creative process of a budding young artist, something they don't get to see or hear about very often. When I've read this book to the kids I work with, they express surprise when they discover that the greatest electric guitarist of all time didn't become that overnight. I often have to pull teeth to get some kids talking .about anything. It's so not cool. However, their response to this book was quite vocal and it has launched discussions about what it takes to be really good at anything. And, they're hungry to talk about this because they desperately want to feel competent, good at something; all kids do. This book has given us the opportunity to explore such concepts as: perseverance, curiosity, playfulness, practice, and above all else, how we learn from our failures, as Jimi learned from his first failed performance on stage. The subject of Jimi Hendrix's drug addiction which the author notes towards the end of the book, has been another topic that has provoked a great deal of discussion. They had surprising and poignant things to say about it. As a clinical social worker and a performing artist, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is looking to find a way into the hearts of our young people. Note: the kids I work with and who responded well to this book ranged in age from 8-13.

    Suzanne Costallos, LCSW

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    Posted April 4, 2011

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