We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.
One of the strategies that I am using to hunt down for books that fit our reading theme is to go through the Schneider Family Book Award winners. This picturebook biography of Art Tatum received the award in 2009, so I immediately ordered it via inter-library loan.
Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
Written and Illustrated by: Robert Andrew Parker
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008
ISBN: 1930900732 (ISBN13: 9781930900738). Literary Awards: Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children’s Book (2009)
Borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.
Young Art Tatum grew up in Toledo with a mechanic for a father and a homemaker mother who is described to be very busy doing her cleaning and housework. Art suffered from an eye condition that grew worse as he became older.
While he did have a few operations, none were successful in improving his eyesight which was severely limited from birth. Yet when he played the piano, everything else faded into the background.
As imagined by author-illustrator Robert Andrew Parker:
“When I am at the piano, I close my eyes. I play clouds of notes, rivers of notes, notes that sound like skylarks singing and leaves rustling, like rain on a rooftop. I forget that my eyes aren’t good. I have everything I need.”
I say “imagined” by the author because he did indicate in his Author’s Note found at the end of the book:
In this book, I used whatever details of Tatum’s childhood I could find, along with my imagination, to fill in the missing pieces.
Since I was not entirely sure what are those missing pieces, I thought it better to be on the safe side. Teachers would be glad to note that there is also a list of References found at the end of the book. Art Tatum eventually became one of the greatest jazz musicians, along with the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington to cite a few. For your auditory and visual delectation, I found a Youtube clip of Art Tatum playing Yesterdays. Enjoy!