BOOK REVIEWS

When Paul Met Artie: The Story of Simon & Garfunkel Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-03-23 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:0763681741
LANGUAGE:English

" I get so frustrated with the format of books that are more appropriate/of interest to older readers. " said.

" Great illustrations and I love the format! " said.

"Wow. Lucky to have seen an advance copy of this gem. I love Simon and Garfunkel but I had no idea that they grew up as childhood pals, bonded over baseball and the birth of rock n roll and that they were rockabilly sensations all before the age of 18?? Crazy. Great illustrations and in depth storytelling of this special (and contentious) life-long friendship. Love that they met in a 6th grade production of Alice in Wonderland! A great overall intro into the music of the 50s and 60s from doo wop to folk rock (with a cameo by Bob Dylan). A must read for any music fans and a great gift to show the young-uns how we used to roll." said.

" A lot more information than I expected there to be. How sweet that they were friends in 6th grade! Of course, this book, along with the picture book bio of Leonard Nimoy, puts me solidly in the Grandma demographic. Sigh. " said.

"I was just born into a world that might offer me a musical soundtrack in the same year that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel would part ways.

And if it hadn't been for the music of that time and the way it came to us, through the circle speakers flush with the dash of the car my parents could afford or through the singular earbud that came with my Donald Duck-shaped transistor radio I might have missed them altogether.

I read WHEN PAUL MET ARTIE the way that I thought it should be read and the way that I hope the teachers with whom I have some audience or influence might: with the 1981 Central Park Concert playing in the background.

The 1970s were a time when we listened to music as a person and as a culture. We attended to Top 40 lists and we knew what the number one song was for the past few weeks because we mentally recorded these lists while we waited patiently to hear if our favorite song was able to hold that number one slot.

I encountered the music of Simon & Garfunkel through a variety of speakers. This was an age before the soundtracks of our lives became the limewire that would spark for a brief moment only to be replaced by another kind of energy. Or i-Tunes so perfectly-branded so as to capture the way we me-me-me ourselves into the personalizing (or self-curating) of our playlists.

We shared this music. This is the music I go back to when I think of a friend's older father who knew the opening notes of "Sounds of Silence" even if he tapped his foot which, in turn, would speed up the tempo. The music of Simon and Garfunkel tap into deeper memories for me.

While in Navy bootcamp, I remember being driven to tears by the company commanders making us listen as a group to "I am a Rock" after "cycling" us both physically and emotionally. These were the words that might have led me back to a shag carpet in a mobile home now bringing me to feel a shame while standing at attention on a hard tile deck of a barracks so far from home.

The music brings us home.

This book feels good in the hands. It's got a certain heft, a heaviness that makes the history of the music feel solid. Good music never loses its toe-hold in the history of a culture just because it has slipped so many slots to the nostalgic countdowns that play in our hearts and minds.

The case when folded flat depict a young Paul walking to the spine where he will meet Art. The artwork is absolutely striking and we have only peeled back the dust jacket the way we might slip a record out of its sleeve. Genius packaging by the creative team and Candelwick here. The book begs to be picked up much the same way as we were drawn to ODETTA or MUDDY. There is a want to return to the history and to the music just in the arrival of the book.

In a book, there is no breakup unless we need to mention it for historical context. As I write this review, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is playing and I am thinking, "WHEN PAUL MET ARTIE needs to be in every classroom library as a means of "laddering" (Teri Lesesne) the music to the story of how artists meet as children, bond over the simple stuff of childhood, and move together in creative process to eventually share their gift with the world.

The titles of Neri's pieces which chronicle the meeting and the early work of the duo derive from the familiar song titles that might take the reader back before entering into Neri's free-flowing, free form, free verse draws the reader into the culture, the music of the 50s and the 60s and how two boys from NYC find themselves inadvertently work against the sounds and the fads of the the time to give all of us what we need even now. . .soft, gentle voice with a discernible message of reflection and hope.

If there is a perfect synthesis of subject, writing, and illustration, WHEN PAUL MET ARTIE is it and there are opportunities here to bring readers back by way of the music to a time that they rarely get to in their studies of American History for the bulk of what might be covered in the span of one-hundred and eighty days. Here, Neri and Litchfield are able to capture two decades, a ten-year absence, and a return that secures a ticket for every reader who couldn't be there in that September of 1981.

This is a book not to be missed. I know I can hand-sell this to my friends of my generation, but what is in the gift of the music and Neri's mentor text in how to render a non-fiction subject in verse that is inviting and informative all at the same time?

In 1981, I did not have to deal with the enormity of what I saw on HBO as an eleven-year-old. I had not been aware of the ramifications or the celebration of these two artists on the stage together after so many years. They were performing the music that had been a part of my life bridging some troubled water of which I was not aware.

Greg Neri and David Litchfield will be responsible this year for all of going back to dust off the records that made us to sing along, to dream, to come together in our sense of shared anthem. And we'll be listening together from the speakers of our time. The music knows what to do. Play. Do we?
" said.

" Neri begins the story of Simon & Garfunkel in 1981 at their reunion concert in New York's Central Park (one which I attended). He then travels back in time thirty years and relates their story chronologically in poems that use their song titles for poem titles. Gorgeously illustrated and nicely oversized, this is a book to savor. If you are planning a read aloud, be sure to cue up some of their greatest hits. " said.

"I knew Simon and Garfunkel were one of my favorite singing duos. I know the words to many of their songs, and I own some of their albums. It wasn’t until I read this book that I realized all that I DIDN’T know about these 2 legendary performers. This book is stunning. Written in prose, with detailed digitally rendered illustrations, I learned that the two boys were born 3 weeks apart and went to school together. Their first performance was in a school play where they played the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat. Every step of their friendship, and on again-off again career/ relationship is explained. I found myself looking up video’s and listening to each song as I read about its inception. Other artists they worked with and were influenced by are included in this biography, like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. I was fascinated to learn that one of their first big hit song, Sounds of Silence, was written in response to a stunned nation after the JFK assassination. This book is a must read for any fan of Simon and Garfunkel. " said.

" This book took my breath away. It isn't one of those picture books you can read in 5 minutes. Give yourself a good half hour to just soak it all in. This will be one of those books that will be a hard sell to kids since most likely don't know who Simon & Garfunkel are, so it will likely need to be hand sold to those sensitive, quiet readers who love music and poetry. Don't neglect those readers. They are waiting for you to recommend a book like this to them. " said.

April 2018 New Book:

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