We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2016 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
I’ve always wanted to borrow this picturebook biography – and seeing how it has been nominated for CYBILS 2015 Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction, it fits right into our current reading theme.
Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the BEATLES
Written by: Susanna Reich
Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson
Published by: Christy Ottaviano Books: Henry Holt and Company, 2015
Book borrowed from Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
The story begins with John Lennon who was born “On a dark October night in 1940.” It appeared that the seeds for what would eventually become the Beatles was planted in John’s Quarrymen – the first band he formed at a time when rock and roll seemed more real to him than the less-than-ideal world he lived in.
It wasn’t too long when Paul McCartney who wanted to meet girls at the church fair, heard the Quarrymen perform and he gravitated naturally towards Paul who looked like Elvis. From the way that Paul’s family was described by Reich, he came from a music-rich environment with Paul’s father organically pointing out chords, harmony, and instruments as they listen to music on the radio or their phonograph. Look at how much of a cutie he is even then.
George Harrison, apparently, was the guitar genius among the first three members of what would later become known as The Beatles. At a time when aspiring musicians had to listen to songs on the radio on repeat to master the guitar chords (there was no internet yet that would easily provide such information), George was able to figure it out with relative ease.
Ringo Starr was the very last addition to the band – the one man who would seal the deal, so to speak, leading these four lads from Liverpool to unimaginable fame, rock and roll history, and a lot of screaming fans and broken hearts in their wake.
Unlike other picturebooks, this one is quite text-heavy – but perfectly understandable, really, given how Reich is essentially telling four different life stories here – while at the same time providing sufficient context to show the birth of a band that would change the world. Teachers would also be happy to note that there is a detailed listing of Notes, Resources, Glossary of Terms, and an Author’s Note at the end of the book. Let me end this overly-long review with The Beatles’ first original record that marked the beginning of what would eventually become an illustrious musical career: