Product Details
List Price:
9 to 12
4 to 7
Trim Size:
9" x 10"
Calkins Creek
ISBN-13: 978-1-62979-439-6
Full-color illustrations
Lexile Level:

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About the Book


Here is the first picture book to explore the life of Bill Monroe, the founding artist of the American root music known as bluegrass. Even though Bill Monroe’s eyes didn’t work right, his ears worked overtime, hearing all sorts of sounds near his treasured Kentucky home. Despite hard times, Bill held the echoes of the hills and hollows close and learned to play them on a mandolin. When he moved to Chicago, he heard whistles, be-bop, and big bands. But when Bill discovered the banjo, the perfect instrument to bring all those sounds together, his band, the Blue Grass Boys, took off. Accompanied by bold, reminiscent illustrations, Bill Monroe’s tale of one artist’s desire to share cadences of his boyhood in a way that changed popular music forever is beautifully brought to life. Includes a bibliography, timeline, archival images, research notes, and the lyrics to Monroe’s masterpiece “Uncle Pen.”


“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  

“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

Meet the Author

Barb Rosenstock

Barb Rosenstock is best known for her many picture book biographies, including Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, Ben Franklin's Big Splash,The Streak, Dorothea's Eyes, and Blue Grass Boy, all published by Calkins Creek. Her other recent titles include a picture book about Vincent Van Gogh, Vincent Can't Sleep, and a picture book about Vasily Kandinsky, The Noisy Paint Box, which won the 2015 Caldecott Honor Medal. She lives outside Chicago with her family. Visit her at

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Other Books by Barb Rosenstock

Meet the Illustrator

Edwin Fotheringham

Edwin Fotheringham has illustrated many award-winning picture book biographies, including What To Do About Alice? and Those Rebels, John and Tom. He also illustrated the Tony Baloney series by Pam Muñoz Ryan. He lives in Seattle, Washington, with his family and their dog and two cats. Visit

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