Piano Man

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In this beautiful story, poignant prose and lush paintings tell the story of a girl's bond with her grandfather through their shared love of music. Eric Velasquez' stunning picture book debut, for which he received the Coretta Scott King New Talent Award, captures Debbi Chocolate's vivid memories of her grandfather, the piano man, his long career spanning decades of American music history, and his special talent for sharing his passion with generation after generation.

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Overview

In this beautiful story, poignant prose and lush paintings tell the story of a girl's bond with her grandfather through their shared love of music. Eric Velasquez' stunning picture book debut, for which he received the Coretta Scott King New Talent Award, captures Debbi Chocolate's vivid memories of her grandfather, the piano man, his long career spanning decades of American music history, and his special talent for sharing his passion with generation after generation.

A young Afro-American girl recalls the life story of her grandfather who performed in vaudeville and played piano for the silent movies.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802775788
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2000
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.22 (w) x 10.16 (h) x 0.11 (d)

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