We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
One of the things I love about our reading themes is that they lead me to stories that I would not otherwise have known. Sun Ra is a totally unknown-to-me jazz musician. Thanks to Chris Raschka, I now have another musician to introduce to my 16-year-old music student daughter.
Written and Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Published by Candlewick Press (2014)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Herman P. “Sonny” Blount was born in Alabama in 1914. From a very young boy, the man who would eventually become known as Sun Ra had been enamoured with music, “the thing about the earth that was most like the stars.”
As a musical prodigy who could notate and play the music he heard from the radio at the age of eleven, he seemed to be somewhat apart from everyone else, almost like he was from a different planet (Saturn, in fact). It was good that he eventually found his ‘tribe’ (known as the Arkestra) when he came of age, and did the one thing he was born to do, notwithstanding the colour of his skin.
Chris Raschka has outdone himself in creating something delightfully psychedelic yet remaining accessible to young readers. The brightness of the colours, the splash of joy in the page, the lilting rhythm of the text all contributed to something as wonderfully surreal as a cosmobiography of a jazz player who was clearly touched by the stars, and totally out of this world.
I found this youtube link of Sun Ra and his Arkestra playing live in London. Hope you enjoy it!