December 17, 2010
Jimi: Sounds like a Rainbow by Gary Golio
by Gary Golio
illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
When he was a boy, Jimmy Hendrix loved to draw and paint. Often, he did this while listening to records. Like many a boy, Jimmy astonished his friends by imitating various sounds — in his case trumpets and guitars.
But he also payed attention to the sounds around him, imitating the plink and plunk of raindrops on a one-string ukelele. He also associated color with the sounds of the world around him — blue with the whoosh of water, green the rustle of leaves, and more. So it probably isn’t surprising that when Jimmy got his first guitar, he started to wonder about painting pictures with sound.
When I started to read, I wondered if Golio could truly make Hendrix into a kid-friendly topic but I must admit, I knew little about Hendrix except how he died. Golio covers this, but only in the author’s note. He discusses addiction and what we know about it now.
The text itself is about a great musician, someone who grew up observing the world around him, someone who grew up seriously poor but never gave up hope and became a pioneer in his field. It is about his creativity and his creative process.
Illustrator Javaka Steptoe creates a combination of paint and collage on rough plywood, capturing the rough nature of Jimmy’s childhood as well as the explosive energy of Jimi’s music.
This book is an excellent introduction to a great musician and also to the creative process that all geniuses employ whether they are painter or musicians, scientists or doctors.