by Gary Golio with illustrations by James Ransome
When I was a kid in the 1950s, there were lots of people telling you what to do. That's the way it was then - culture was pretty conformist, and you were expected to follow the party line in how you dressed, thought, and spoke (see: Joe McCarthy). Well, that never sat right with me, and I was often in the principal's office as a young boy, getting yelled at by neighbors for climbing their shed roofs, or being put down by teachers for always doing things the wrong way. Because it really seemed there was always a "right way"--the expected, normal way of doing things--and when trying something new or unusual, I often heard, "That's not how it's done!" or "Nobody's done it like that before - you think you know better?" or "Why do you think you're so special?" These folks were upset that I wasn't doing what I was told, and therefore wasn't correct in my approach to living. My willful creativity, in other words, was threatening to the status quo. Unfortunately for those people--and perhaps for me, given the trouble that ensued--I only became more resistant to following directions and advice as a result of their criticism, which was often very personal. But that's how it is in life at times - either you succumb to GroupThink, or you end up striking out on a solitary, personal path, especially if you've got creative bones. And I was born with creative bones.
Kirkus, *starred review*
"Based on a true story, this charming picture book captures and shares the spirit and rhythm of Sonny's playing. The free verse text makes nice use of figurative language...and Ransome's gorgeous representational art, richly created with watercolor and collage, expands the story beautifully ."
Booklist, *starred review*
"The creators' deliberate lines and detailed visuals sing like music themselves as they pay homage to an artist who finds a way to ring out loud and clear."
Publishers Weekly, *starred review*