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

illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. 40p. bibliog. notes. photos. Calkins Creek. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781629794396.
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.

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