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

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

Gary Golio, illus. by Javaka Steptoe, Clarion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-85279-6

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.)