I and I Bob Marley by Tony Medina. Illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson. Lee & Low. 2009. Copy Supplied by Publisher.
The Plot: The life of Bob Marley, told in verse.
The Good: Verse is the perfect way to tell the life story of a musician. "I am the boy/ From Nine Miles/ The sing/ Like three little birds/ In a reggae style."
Do you have to "know" Bob Marley to appreciate this book? No. Someone familiar with his life and music will recognize phrases and the chronology; but those not as familiar will follow along, as Bob is a small child living on a farm, a boy abandoned by his father, a teenager raised in a slum, all along music shaping him and his life.
Picture book biographies about adults are always tricky because the question is raised, how much do you tell? What is a necessary part of a story? So yes, we are told about Bob's white father who is missing from his childhood and then disappears from Bob's life. But we aren't told about Bob's children out of wedlock; actually, we aren't told about any of his children. And why should we? For those who want more than the sparse, world-creating poetry, there are notes that explain those details that adults care about.
The pictures -- wow. Look at that cover? Who wouldn't want to pick that up? The colors within the book are vibrant and alive; often playing off the colors of the flag associated with the Rastafarians (based on the old Ethiopian flag).
And how can I not link to a Bob Marley song?
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy