Blue Grass Boy: The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-01-16 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"This is a picture book biography of Bill Monroe. Bill grew up the youngest of eight children in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. His eyes were crossed which is why people believe that his ears worked so well with music. His mother died when he was just 10 years old and he found comfort in music after he found an old mandolin lying around. When he was 16, his father died too — that’s when he moved in with his Uncle Pen and began playing in regular performance gigs. Bill also met Arnold Shultz, said to be the most famous traveling picker in the area — gifted with the blues. This is when Bill learned to slide notes and enjoy unique rhythms. Eventually, Bill starts The Blue Grass Boys with a guitarist, a fiddler, an upright bassist, a mandolin, and at last, a banjo. Aaaand the rest is history!

In the back, there’s a longer biography over Monroe’s life, along with a very detailed bibliography for further reading (including several black and white photos of Bill, his family, and even Arnold Shultz). The brightly-colored illustrations are digitally rendered. For more #kidlit, #mglit, and #yalit book reviews, please visit my blog: The Miller Memo.
" said.

"Music lovers will feel like organizing a barn dance when they read this picture book biography of Bill Monroe. The author traces the birth of bluegrass music from Monroe's childhood in Kentucky to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Participating in a "sundown jamboree" with his family, Bill would hear jigs, hymns, and ballads. But he also listened to the sounds of nature and learned to play a mandolin. He refined his skills playing at hillside dances and picked up the rhythms of the blues. Everywhere he went he kept his ears open to new sounds and styles, and finally he put them all together to make something new - bluegrass. And the rest is history.

The text flows along like the songs of a homey bluegrass tune. And the illustrations have a down-home simplicity which fits perfectly with the subject. Several images are especially eye-catching. One shows Willie as a young boy with his eyes crossed and sounds (pictured as zigzagging lines), filling his ears. Another shows an antique radio on a U.S. map, with Monroe's band standing on top, and many small figures across the country dancing to the music coming from the radio's speakers. That especially captures the reach and appeal of bluegrass music.

Back matter includes more factual details and black and white photos of Monroe's life. An extensive bibliography, source notes, and picture and text credits give readers places to look if they want to learn more. And a final page features a large photo above the lyrics to the song, "Uncle Pen," written in remembrance of Bill's uncle.

Highly recommended for elementary school libraries and public library children's collections. Good for early grade biography projects, music appreciation and history units, and enjoying pieces of American cultural history.

I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review purposes.

" said.

" I love me some Bluegrass music. This is a fabulous fabulous book. I HIGHLY recommend to children of all ages. " said.

" Picture book biography about the life of Bill Monroe. Includes historical information about the blue grass singer. " said.

" I like this book because this person wants to find music, and then he finds this old banjo, but it's sad that he died. " said.

" A solid biography of bluegrass musician Bill Monore, delightful cartoon-like illustrations " said.

" Bright an bold illustrations, many with shades of blue, and an easy reading style, will appeal to the younger fan of bluegrass. The back matter will point the older student towards additional reading. " said.

" I did not know that one person is credited with creating blue grass music. But then, I learn the most interesting things from picture books. This one has a folksy appeal that invites the reader to settle right in and feel comfortable - but not too comfortable because there is some sadness here too. The illustrations are cartoonish but there's a richness to the color that elevates it. The backmatter includes black and white photos, extra information, a bibliography and source notes. " said.

January 2019 New Book:

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