cover image Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell

Joni: The Lyrical Life of Joni Mitchell

Selina Alko. HarperCollins, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-267129-5

This loose biography of the legendary singer-songwriter centers on Mitchell’s feelings while tying popular songs (“Chelsea Morning,” “Woodstock”) to biographical moments. This emphasis, rendered in affirmational language—“hearing all these natural feelings sung out loud helped people feel understood”—focuses on the sense of Mitchell’s music as much as the facts of her life and artistry. Alko follows Mitchell’s life from her childhood in small-town Canada (she felt “like an upside-down bird on a wire”) to her bout with polio (“she wished she could kick and scream”) and later relationships (“she fell in and out of love and cried all the time”). Portrayals of her professional life also focus on feel (regarding negative reactions to her album Mingus, “Joni didn’t care.”). Layered mixed-media collages featuring cut paper, found images, and colorful smears of paint effectively evoke the richly rendered emotional landscapes of Mitchell’s songwriting. An author’s note, discography, and bibliography conclude. Ages 4–8. [em](Feb.) [/em]