Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix
by Gary Golio (Author) and Javaka Steptoe (Illustrator)
Booktalk: Jimi loved sound and color…and he grew up to be one of the greatest guitar players of all time.
Sweeping up his room one day, Jimmy
stopped and held the broom in his arms.
He strummed on the bristles,
sliding his fingers
back and forth along the wooden handle.Was this what it felt like to hold a real
guitar–to swing it up and down,
to make music while you sang?
Picture Book of the Day is the first stop on author Gary Golio‘s blog tour. And so we begin with just three questions…
Q: When did you start writing?
A. I began writing in the fifth grade, when I was 10 or 11, for the front-of-the-class Show &Tell presentation each week. “Tales of Flubbergirl”—a takeoff on the mysterious compound introduced in the movie The Absent-Minded Professor (1961)—was an ongoing series of stories about a heroine with “super bouncing powers,” who could protect those in need, foil the nefarious plans of crooks and evildoers, and make people laugh. I had no particular interest in bouncing powers, but I really did want to be a superhero and to move people. Only later in life did I discover that artists were a lot like superheroes, using musical instruments,paintbrushes, words and their own bodies to astound, amaze, and inspire us. A lot easier than being SpiderMan!
Q: Describe your writing process.
A. I think a lot—probably too much—about life, the things around me, my day-to-day experiences, and plans for the future. A lot of this thinking revolves around Art—drawing and music—and the work of other artists that inspire me. When I’m fascinated by someone, I like to study their life, their influences, and their struggles. Seeing how people I admire (like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Pablo Picasso, John Coltrane, and Charlie Chaplin) found their way as children and adults, makes me want to discover their secrets: the talents or techniques they used to do their work. After a lot of research on that person (books, film/videos, records/CDs), I start looking for a story, within their life, that shows us who they are and why they’re so interesting. Once I’ve got that idea, I put away my notes and just start writing. It comes out more like poetry than prose at first—images, with sounds and colors—and I follow that lead, filling in the blanks, turning up the volume or the feeling, until I’ve told a story that I can believe in. And then I revise the heck out of it!
Q: Tell us about your latest book.
A. JIMI is my first (literary) child, and very dear to my heart. It’s about a boy who sees the world a little differently, with a love of sound and color, a deep connection to music (that runs in his family), and a need to speak out in his own way. And while it’s about the roots of someone whose adult work we know or can easily become familiar with, the story focuses on a kid who does a lot with a little. While I believe that the young Jimmy Hendrix had innate gifts, he was also propelled by a desire to succeed, and a willingness to invest himself in making his dreams real. Many of the kids I work with as a therapist have no concrete goals for the future. Without a star to hitch your wagon to, one has no real sense of direction and can easily be led off course,which is what often happens. Children need to dream, to imagine—even if it’s “outside of the box”—because that’s how we begin the journey of our lives, and how we nurture a sense of hopefulness about living in general.
Congratulations on your first book, and the stars from Kirkus and School Library Journal, Gary!
Be sure to join the rest of the tour at:
Day 2 - Tuesday 10/19, Mitali’s Fire Escape
Day 3 - Wednesday 10/20, The Brown Bookshelf
Day 4 – Thursday 10/21, Original Content
Day 5 – Friday 10/22, Tales from the Rushmore Kid
Day 6 – Monday 10/25, The Fourth Musketeer
Day 7 -Tuesday 10/26, Great Kid Books
This week’s Nonfiction Monday Round-up is at MotherReader.
(See my other Monday blog, Book of the Week:
Activities for Classrooms and Libraries.)
Copyright © 2010 Anastasia Suen All Rights Reserved.