Biography, Black History Month, Music

Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound By Kathleen Cornell Berman


Back of Book:
As a young musician, Miles Davis heard music everywhere. This biography explores the childhood and early career of a jazz legend as he finds his voice and shapes a new musical sound. Follow his progression from East St. Louis to rural Arkansas, from Julliard and NYC jazz clubs to the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival.
My Review:
I received a copy of this picture book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
I have been using several different picture books to teach my students about different forms of poetry. I am so excited to share this story with them on Monday. It uses rhythmic free verse to tell readers about the life of the great Miles Davis. The story follows Miles from his childhood in St. Louis to his unforgettable career as a trumpet player. Miles never stopped challenging himself and in the process changed music. The text has quotes from Miles which adds a layer of depth to the story. The illustrations by debut illustrator Keith Henry Brown are nothing short of breathtaking! The colors are rich and draw readers into the life and struggles of a music legend. The back of the book has a note from Wynton Marsalis as well as notes from the author and illustrator. I loved that every note shared the impact that Miles music had on them.
This is a great nonfiction biography that showcases the strength and dedication that Miles Davis had for music. It is a true treasure and should be in all classrooms and libraries.
Ages 8 an up
40 Pages

Biography, Music

Elvis Is King! By Jonah Winter


Back of Book:
Here’s the perfect book for anyone who wants to introduce rock ‘n’ roll and its king to the child in their lives. In single- page “chapters” with titles like “The First Cheeseburger Ever Eaten by Elvis” and “Shazam! A Blond Boy Turns into a Black-Haired Teenager,” readers can follow key moments in Presley’s life, from his birth on the wrong side of the railroad tracks in the Deep South, to playing his first guitar in grade school, to being so nervous during a performance as a teenager that he starts shaking . . . and changes the world!
My Review:
I received a copy of this book from author Jonah Winter in exchange for an honest review.
I was so excited to see that a new picture book was coming out about the King of Rock and Roll. Jonah Winter has beautifully captured the life of Elvis and his rise to fame. There were several tidbits of information that I had never heard before. I love that the book is broken up into headings. It allows readers to clearly see Elvis life progress from childhood to following his dreams and making it to stardom. The illustrations are unique in that they are claymation. The details jump off the page at readers! The back of the book has information about Elvis that allows readers to learn even more about the talented singer and performer. A must have for any music history unit or any study about influential people who changed aspects in history.
Ages 6 and up
40 Pages


There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake by Loren Long

HoleintheLog_BlogBanner Back of Book:
A cumulative text featuring repetition and tongue-twisters combine with gorgeous illustrations from New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long for a book kids will clamor for at storytime. Endpapers include sheet music and lyrics for kids and parents to have their own singalong!
My review:
I am so excited to be apart of the blog tour for this amazing book! There’s A Hole in the Log On the Bottom of the Lake is a terrific story to introduce readers to patterns and sequencing in storytelling. Each verse in the book builds upon itself. My students loved trying to guess what else was on the bottom of the lake next. The detailed illustrations bring out each aspect of the story beautifully. I loved the snail and turtle that appear on each page. They bring a new level of depth and fun to the story.  This book is sure to bring a lot of laughter and fun.   The illustrations are bright, bold and build upon the illustrations as the story builds. The back of the book has the music notes and song lyrics. Loren Long has skillfully put together a fun read-aloud that will be enjoyed over and over
Ages 5 and up
40 pages


A Hole in the Log
Book Cover 


Loren Long grew up in Lexington, Kentucky. He pursued graduate-level studies at the American Academy of Art in Chicago after graduating with a BA in Graphic Design/Art Studio from the University of Kentucky. After graduation, Long worked as an illustrator for a greeting card company in Cincinnati before beginning his career as a freelance illustrator. Since then, Long has received numerous accolades for his fluid WPA painting style. He has been awarded two gold medals from the Society of Illustrators in New York and has been frequently selected for their annual exhibition and book. His work has also appeared in many other major annual exhibitions held by such prestigious journals and magazines as American Illustration, Communication Arts, Step-By-Step Graphics and Print. Long’s clients include Time, Reader’s Digest, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Boy’s Life, Land’s End, Sports Illustrated, and HBO. He has also illustrated book covers for numerous publishers and has recently concentrated on illustrating books for young readers, where his work has garnered much recognition and praise.

Click Here to go to this website




See this image Mr. Mergler, Beethoven, and Me David Gutnick




Back of Book:
Not long after arriving in North America from China, a young girl and her father bump into a kind old man at their local park. They have no idea that he has been teaching young people music for over fifty years. Mr. Mergler can hear music in a way that most of us can’t, and he knows this little girl has a talent that, with encouragement, will grow into something magical. He gives her a gift that will tie them together forever.
My Review:
I was very excited to receive a copy of this book from Second Story Press in exchange for an honest review.
This story is a beautiful multicultural story about a young girl who learns to play the piano from a kind older gentleman. Mr. Mergler opens up the young girl’s mind in a way that no one ever has before. The story shows readers the beauty of how music can open their minds to new possibilities. The story also teacher’s readers about the brilliant mind of Beethoven. The text is written with a gentle tone and draws readers into the story. The story is based on the real Mr. Mergler and the lives he touched. The illustrations are beautiful. This is a perfect book to add to any elementary library.
Ages 5 and up
32 Pages

Click Here to Buy on Amazon




The Girl Who Heard Colors By Marie Harris


Back of Book:

This eye-opening picture book introduces readers to their five senses and to synesthesia—a condition in which one sense triggers another. For some people, sounds or tastes have colors. And for others, numbers and letters do.

My Review:

The first time I heard the term synesthesia, I was in college listening to my school choir preform. I was absolutely amazed by the concept of seeing colors while listening to music. When I heard that there was a picture book synesthesia I knew I had to review it. Readers are introduced to a young girl who has synesthesia.  When Jullian hears sounds she sees colors. The other student’s do not understand her unique ability and tease her for it. The music teacher arrives and is able to explain to the students why Jullian is different.  The illustrations bring the color experience to life and draw readers in. I also like that there is a section in the back of the books that talks about the author meeting and working with the real Jullian. I really enjoyed reading this story and look forward to sharing it with my students.

Click Here to Find on Amazon