cover image THE BOOK OF ROCK STARS: 24 Musical Icons That Shine Through History

THE BOOK OF ROCK STARS: 24 Musical Icons That Shine Through History

Kathleen Krull, , illus. by Stephen Alcorn. . Hyperion, $16.99 (44pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-1950-8

Krull (Songs of Praise ) presents a personal and affectionate paean to 21 male and three female rock legends, whom she labels "bright icons who changed the old ways and brought in the new." A spread is devoted to each of the stars (save the Beatles, who get two), introduced chronologically by birth year—from Elvis to Kurt Cobain. Krull selects some telling details (one of which recurs: Elvis wanted a bicycle for his 10th birthday, and his parents "got him a cheap guitar instead," while Cobain's uncle offered him a choice of a guitar or a bicycle for his 14th birthday, and the teen "took the cheap, secondhand guitar"). Each capsule chronicle of the musician's career faces one of Alcorn's (Let It Shine ) full-page, polychrome relief-block print portraits. The author's informal narrative provides some insight into the performers' inspirations, onstage antics and professional milestones, yet a few statements are a bit silly (she writes of Ringo Starr, "with his oversized nose—you just wanted to take him home") or contrived (finding material "within himself," Bob Dylan "would toss off brilliant observations, mysterious, with multiple meanings, gems of genius to go blowing in the wind," she asserts, without lyrics to offer up as examples). Alcorn's stylized, symbol-filled portrayals of the musicians are most effective for 1960s performers such as Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, and reggae legend Bob Marley; his fractured portrait of Kurt Cobain is also memorable. Although this introduction is spotty, the design is enticing, and a concluding list of further reading suggestions, Web sites and landmark recordings may inspire fans to do more research. All ages. (Oct.)