BOOK REVIEWS

Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-10 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1481443496
LANGUAGE:English

"How do you explain the Blues to children? The blues is a muddy pot of extreme adult emotions, but kids already feel things acutely. This book manages to make the blues a tangible accessible concept, embodied by a kid named Muddy Waters. I love the awesome definition for blues in the book: "It was shake off the dust and wring out your worries and laugh and cry and feel alive music." The expressive text tells of his life and shows how he went from the fields of Mississippi to the clubs of Chicago, by following his own muse. The saturated colors of the mixed media illustrations complement the text by channeling mood and deep feelings and time and place. An author's note with a photograph of Waters, as well as a bibliography and a list of albums make this a stellar introduction to the art form and the man." said.

"This book was my number one choice in the mock Caldecott for our class.  I mean, the narrative itself is great, and I learned a great deal of things about Muddy Waters.  But the design of the book, the illustrations--what artwork!  The book itself is square in shape, and if you take off the dust cover, what lies beneath is a record illustration, which makes perfect sense, but also works beautifully as a tie-in and homage to Muddy's career.  And the illustrations themselves are absolutely stunning and vibrant and electric, which also makes sense given the genre of his musical career.  The lines are jagged and change color depending on what's happening in the story, and furthermore, Muddy's placement on the doublespreads typically indicates his inner turmoil or contentment.  Overall, this book is just a joy to hold and to read, and should most definitely find its way into your homes and hearts.

Review cross-listed here!
" said.

"Evan Turk's illustrations seem to me to be beautiful and unusual and heartfelt despite the fact that he doesn't appear to be African American.

Michael Mahin's text has a pleasing storyteller-pacing with a little bit of poetics but not too much flourish, and feels like it might fit the cultural identify of Muddy Waters, despite the fact that Mahin doesn't appear to be African American either.

Does it appear cohesive and respectful and "authentic" to me because I'm no closer in my identity to Muddy Waters as Turk and Mahin, or do people from Muddy Waters' own culture also find it a pleasing and satisfying representation?

Furthermore, I know nothing about the musician Muddy Waters, so I can't tell if this brief presentation of his life is accurate, authentic, and faithful.

I really don't understand how any publisher can offer a musician's biography without a CD, or references to specific pieces of music. It seems insufficient to refer only to 3 "Best of Muddy Waters" compilation recordings.
" said.

"I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader copy of this book, by Michael Mahin, which I have since purchased so I can hold in my hands the final copy, which I predict will win its share of awards.

This amazing picture book about blues legend Muddy Waters oozed into my pores, tickled my rhythm bones, and left me wide eyed and open eared. The lyricism of the pulsing text is matched by rollicking illustrations, which set me to toe-tapping. Other illustrations evoke strong emotions with a few simple lines depicting facial expressions and body language. I love the way the branches of the cotton stems and bolls mimic the arms of the workers reaching out to pick the cotton. This book is the perfect melding of words and art and I can’t imagine one without the other.

Muddy’s life story, one of hardship, discouragement, and eventually, success, will encourage young readers to believe in themselves and stand their ground until, like Muddy, their voices are heard.

Although I knew of the musician, I knew little about the man. Muddy, The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters, sent me scrambling to know more about the entertainer. And while doing so, I learned about his colleagues as well. And isn’t that exactly what a picture book should do?

This is Mahin’s debut picture book. Readers can look forward eagerly to his future offerings.

" said.

" I've waited a long time for this from my library. Lots of holds means it is much loved. Now I finally get to read and love it, too! "McKinley Morganfield was never good at doing what he was told" begins this fabulous story. In poetic soundbites, Michael Mahin tells the story of the famous Muddy Waters, born in rural Mississippi, his mother left too soon, grandmother raised. His early music was at church, but he also loved the blues, and though his Grandma Della did not ("You can't eat the blues for breakfast."), Muddy found a half-smashed kerosene can, a wheezy accordion and a tired piece of wire. He just had to make music to feel good! Finally, working in the fields in the day and playing at night wasn't enough. He took off for Chicago! A most poignant goodbye is a double-page spread showing this goodbye.
Muddy kept on, tried to please those who wanted him to play that "regular" blues, but kept returning to the sound of the Mississippi Delta, "the sound Muddy heard in his heart." Muddy has influenced musicians like Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn, the Rolling Stones and countless others according to the Author's Note at the back. "He called up the sticky heat of a summer night, the power of love, and the need for connection in a world that was so good at pulling people apart." It was poetry, like these words by Michael Mahin. Evan Turk's illustrations swirl through the pages like Muddy's music, colorful, graceful, and heartfelt. Mahin has added a brief bibliography and "further listening" at the end.
" said.

"Gorgeous, stunning, powerful. Artwork is alive with color and movement. Text flows smoothly and the repetition of "never good at doing what he was told" and "oh, child, long gone. oh, child. sail on" lend a musical refrain. The first two-page spread to almost depict a river of blue flames with Muddy running from the two hands reaching out for him. Love the repeated image of the title page spread of the river flowing past a shack and cotton fields, and last two-page spread of Muddy standing by that river and shacks. Back cover is a record with the text circling round. Muddy-brown endpapers and a half-title page that is reminiscent of African art. Good author's note at the end along with a bibliography and suggested listening." said.

"Blues legend Muddy Waters grew up in the Mississippi Delta, playing music on whatever he found at hand: an old accordion, a piece of wire, a beat-up can. His grandma tried to steer him away from music, saying, “you can’t eat the blues for breakfast.” But Muddy persisted. And when he got tired of earning little money for sharecropping, he moved to Chicago where his skill at playing the blues eventually gained him recognition.

His journey from child to musical trailblazer comes to life in a picture book called Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters. Author Michael Mahin touches on the areas of Muddy’s life that influenced his music, including gospel choirs, music at family picnics and juke joints, and the back-busting work of sharecropping. His move to Chicago exposed him to jazzy blues. But Muddy insisted on playing “deep-feling, gutbucket, gut-aching music full of life and love and trouble and pride.” Muddy sang with his heart, and people loved it.

Evan Turks’s illustrations flow like water and music in bold colors. And they give the essence of Muddy’s experience from cotton fields and country churches to dance halls and city scenes. The result is a gorgeous picture book that parents and children will want to read again and again.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
" said.

"Beautiful, beautiful book about how blues legend Muddy Waters played "not with his fingers, but with his heart." It's a compelling story about his journey as a young man from the Mississippi Delta, where there was nothing for him but back-breaking, sharecropping work, to the South Side of Chicago, where he eventually found his musical path with Leonard Chess of Chess Records, playing the kind of music he wanted to share with the world. A great story of perseverance and hard work; as the author points out repeatedly, Muddy "was never good at doing what he was told," but he had a clear vision and determination on his side.
The artwork is just stunning. Artist Evan Turk does an amazing job of conveying setting through his colorful, impressionistic pictures, rendered in watercolor, oil pastel, china marker, printing ink, and newspaper collage. He really captures the colors and aura of rural Mississippi as well as those of the cityscape and the jazzier urban life of Chicago; although done in the same style, the two settings are made distinct through his depiction and extraordinary use of color.
A New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2017.
" said.

April 2018 New Book:

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