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Piano Man
     

Piano Man

by Debbi Chocolate, Eric Velasquez (Illustrator)
 

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Her silver-haired grandfather no longer plays piano on stage, but his passion for the instrument still lives in his heart and on his fingertips. This moving and powerful story of a girl's bond with her grandfather is told through their shared love of music. Full color.

Overview

Her silver-haired grandfather no longer plays piano on stage, but his passion for the instrument still lives in his heart and on his fingertips. This moving and powerful story of a girl's bond with her grandfather is told through their shared love of music. Full color.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Children are often fascinated by the lives their relatives led when they were young. This book addresses that fascination by telling the story of Chocolate's grandfather, who led a fascinating life as a musician in the days of silent movies. Replaced by "Talkies," Grandfather went on to Broadway, road shows, and vaudeville. In his later years, he shared his music with his granddaughter. Grandfather led an interesting life that shows children a lot of about history as well as the man, while possibly inspiring them to learn more about their own relatives. The rich, detailed illustrations beautifully highlight the various stages of Grandfather's life.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
The author's grandfather played piano for the silent films. He was taught by Jelly Roll Morton and Scott Joplin, and played for the Ziegfield Follies and vaudeville. In later years when his options were limited, he became a piano tuner. He shared his experiences with his granddaughter who lovingly shares them with us. The paintings, in glorious color, are exuberant recreations of a time past. Velasquez is a master at drawing believable characters and imbuing them with dynamic personality.
School Library Journal
Chocolate adds to her list of books on African and African-American themes with a fictional memoir drawn from her own family history. "My grandfather," begins her narrative, "played piano for the silent movies." He played on Broadway for the Follies and sang and danced in vaudeville. When marriage and family ended his days on the road and silent movies turned into talkies, he became a piano tuner. His greatest joy in his last years was to play the old upright piano bought by his daughter from the theater he once filled with music. Bright red theater curtains on the endpapers set the stage for the series of well-designed, realistic, double-spread paintings in acrylic with pencil cross-hatching, which bring the past to life. Warm, vibrant earth tones enliven the text. But central to the story, and the key to its enjoyment by young readers today, is the narrator's memories of a beloved grandfather, a warm family, and a black community happily entertained by early films and ragtime music. Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Horn
Inviting us in with a devilish smile on the title page, the piano man turns his story over to his granddaughter, who proudly relates her grandfather's pianistic triumphs in silent-film accompaniment, on Broadway, in medicine shows and vaudeville, and, after the talkies took over, in piano tuning, where he thumped out foot-stomping rags that recalled his glory days. This is a heartening slice of African-American family history (Chocolate supplies an autobiographical note) that is refreshingly short on role-modeling and long on joy and visual glamour, as provided by the beautiful glossy woods of Grandfather's pianos. In his first picture book, illustrator Eric Velasquez tempers nostalgia with a sleek show-biz allure, as in the double-spread painting that introduces the piano man to his future wife, a beautiful stage show dancer who struts across the stage in a sassy blue gown. Some of the facial modeling is stiffly generic, but Velasquez gets the mood right, and Chocolate's stance of unassuming recollection strikes an equally right note.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802775788
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Publication date:
03/01/2000
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.22(w) x 10.16(h) x 0.11(d)
Age Range:
5 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

DEBBI CHOCOLATE is the author of more than twenty picture books, including The Piano Man, which received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award, and Talk, Talk: An Ashanti Legend, winner of the Parents’ Choice Award. She lives outside Chicago with her family.

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