Blue Grass Boy: The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music

by Barb Rosenstock (Author) Edwin Fotheringham (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Learn about the creation of the unique American music called bluegrass through the story of Bill Monroe. Bill Monroe loved many things: playing music, his big family, and his home in the bluegrass state of Kentucky. Even though his eyes were crossed and didn't work right, Bill's ears worked hard, picking out all sorts of sounds around his treasured home: rushing streams, wailing winds, and sundown jamborees with his family. Through heartache and hard times, Bill held on to these sounds that reminded him of home. Award-winning author Barb Rosenstock and illustrator Edwin Fotheringham beautifully capture the ups and downs of Bill Monroe's musical journey, and how his deep Kentucky roots helped him create a unique form of American music--bluegrass. Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash and Jerry Garcia all credit Bill Monroe with influencing their music.

Kirkus Reviews

This picture book is both a biography of Bill Monroe and a history of bluegrass music, the genre he was instrumental in creating... (t)he book's tone is nostalgic, with folksy narration... (a) tribute to an Americana icon and his musical legacy.

Booklist

(I)nformation-packed (with) creative text...Fotheringham's inventive, digital artwork strikes a playful note...A spirited picture book introducing the 'Father of Bluegrass Music.

School Library Journal

Gr 1-4--This picture book biography of Bill Monroe introduces readers to the formative influences of his music and richly recalls the hills and mountain streams of his Kentucky upbringing. The writing uses imagery and a voice that evokes the oral storytelling tradition to great effect. It's not just that Rosenstock describes the rolling hills of Kentucky, it's the way she uses language to lovingly speak of the land, its people, and the region using dialect and vocabulary that Monroe or any of his loved ones might if they were telling this story. The author adeptly and squarely aims this book at the intended audience by highlighting details young readers can connect with, such as Monroe being the youngest of eight children and growing up with a left eye that turned inward (esotropia). In both the narrative and the back matter, readers witness Monroe's trials with his eyesight and his resulting development of a fine-tuned sense of hearing which helps him make a big impression on the music world. The digital illustrations are vibrant with a retro feel. Natural elements ranging from trees to blue skies and animals are the most dominant images and complement the imagery of Monroe's music. The back matter provides a more in-depth look at the life and career of the musician and includes black-and-white photographs of his family and his band, quotes, and a bibliography. VERDICT A highly recommended purchase for most libraries, especially those in Kentucky and the surrounding states where the music was born, and in any collections looking to bolster their juvenile biography section.--Samantha Lumetta, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

Rosenstock tells the story of bluegrass musician Bill Monroe, who found refuge from a sometimes painful childhood--he lost both of his parents and was ridiculed for having crossed eyes--through music. She describes the influences that Monroe would come to integrate into his music, including the blues, which he first hears from musician Arnold Shultz. Forming the Blue Grass Boys band and taking up the banjo, Monroe eventually finds a distinctive style, and Fotheringham's high-energy digital art shows Monroe's development from unhappy boy to confident performer with his band: "The music plowed through the radio, touching city folks missing the hills and hill folks left in the hollows." As Monroe hits his musical stride, the spreads fill with inky blue, like a moonlit Kentucky night. Ages 9-12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Mar.)

Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This picture book is both a biography of Bill Monroe and a history of bluegrass music, the genre he was instrumental in creating... (t)he book's tone is nostalgic, with folksy narration... (a) tribute to an Americana icon and his musical legacy." - Kirkus Reviews

"(I)nformation-packed (with) creative text...Fotheringham's inventive, digital artwork strikes a playful note...A spirited picture book introducing the 'Father of Bluegrass Music.'"
Booklist

"This picture book biography of Bill Monroe...richly recalls the hills and mountain streams of his Kentucky upbringing. The writing uses imagery and a voice that evokes the oral storytelling tradition to great effect. It's not just that Rosenstock describes the rolling hills of Kentucky, it's the way she uses language to lovingly speak of the land, its people, and the region using dialect and vocabulary that Monroe or any of his loved ones might if they were telling this story. The author adeptly and squarely aims this book at the intended audience by highlighting details young readers can connect with...The digital illustrations are vibrant with a retro feel...(and) complement the imagery of Monroe's music. A highly recommended purchase." - School Library Journal

"Rosenstock tells the story of bluegrass musician Bill Monroe, who found refuge from a sometimes painful childhood... (illustrator) Fotheringham's high-energy digital art shows Monroe's development from unhappy boy to confident performer with his band... as Monroe hits his musical stride, the spreads fill with inky blue, like a moonlit Kentucky night." - Publishers Weekly
Barb Rosenstock
BARB ROSENSTOCK is the author of the Caldecott Honor Book The Noisy Paint Box; Vincent Can't Sleep; Through the Window; and Mornings with Monet, all also illustrated by Mary GrandPré, as well as many other books. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband, sons, and two big poodles. Visit her at BarbRosenstock.com.

ERIKA MEZA is the illustrator of Salsa Lullaby by Jen Arena. She was born in Morelia, in the Mexican state where monarch butterflies go for the winter. She grew up in awe of the phenomenon, and carried the image of the butterfly as a piece of home when she moved to Paris to follow her dream of becoming an author and illustrator. Her themes are born out of the exploration of her migrant essence, her bittersweet relationship with change, and her attachment to innocence and curiosity. She now lives in London. Learn more about Erika at ErikaMeza.com or on Twitter at @ErikaDraws.
Classification
Non-fiction
ISBN-13
9781629794396
Lexile Measure
870L
Guided Reading Level
N/A
Publisher
Calkins Creek Books
Publication date
March 20, 2018
Series
-

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