Beauty, Art, Music in Literature Books Features Genre Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] Suzanne Slade’s “The Music in George’s Head”

George Gershwin creates Rhapsody in Blue.

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Fats here.

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.

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We share a lot of picturebook biographies on our blog but it’s not often that I come across one about musicians. As our current theme comes to a close, I’m sharing a picturebook biography of George Gershwin, a talented pianist and composer who became successful in classical as well as popular music.


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The Music in George’s Head

George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue

Written by Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Published by Boyds Mills Press (2016)
ISBN-13: 9781629790992
Copy provided by Hudson Library & Historical Society.

I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise. — George Gershwin

Wherever he went, George Gershwin collected music and stuffed it inside his head for safekeeping. Classical, ragtime, blues, jazz—even the sounds of city streets and chugging trains. George’s head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz.

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The Music in George’s Head tells the remarkable story of George Gershwin and how he became one of the most popular musicians of his time. At a young age, George had been fascinated with tunes and beautiful music. No one knew about it until George started playing the piano that his mother bought.

George studied with the best piano teachers in town. At the age of fifteen, he worked at a music store, where he sometimes played music upon customers’ request. At seventeen, George sold his first music sheet.

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George heard music everywhere. His inspiration came from clatter and noise of New York’s bustling streets, even the noise and rhythm from trains! He experimented with different styles of music and blended them into one beautiful piece.

Back home, George finished his concerto. It was just as he’d planned—

daring, and razzmatazz dazzling!

It was a musical kaleidoscope of America’s melting pot—

Rhapsody in Blue.

With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, Suzanne Slade and Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin reached inside his head to create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue. It’s a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes and sounds and one long wail of a clarinet—dazzling and daring, just like George Gershwin himself!

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