cover image I and I: Bob Marley

I and I: Bob Marley

Tony Medina, , illus. by Jesse Joshua Watson . Lee & Low, $19.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-1-60060-257-3

This lyrical picture-book biography of the reggae icon tells his story in verse, from humble beginnings in a small Jamaican village to his glory days as an influential musician. Told in first person (the “I and I” can mean “we”), 17 poems chronologically plot Marley's life path—combined, the poems (and vibrant acrylics) paint a vivid picture of the poverty and turmoil but also the love, faith and island beauty from which Marley arose. “At Fourteen” describes his entrée into the music scene with Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs and others, while “Island Song” is a rebuke of Jamaican oppression. “Yell-ow green black and red/ I and I a natty dread/ African Arawak Taino/ I am from/ Slave ship mountains/ And Caribbean rum.” While readers may not understand all the verses and terms, Medina's (Love to Langston ) thorough endnotes will answer questions, e.g., what the term Babylon means. Watson's (Chess Rumble ) majestic art powerfully evokes the people and places that had the strongest influence on Marley, as well as the power he himself would wield. Ages 8–12. (May)