Product Details
List Price:
9 to 11
3 to 6
Trim Size:
10" x 9"
Calkins Creek
ISBN-13: 978-1-62979-099-2
Full-color illustrations
Lexile Level:

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About the Book


George Gershwin heard music all the time—at home, at school, even on New York City’s busy streets. Classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz—George’s head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz! With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin combined various kinds of music to create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes, sounds, and one long wail of a clarinet. Includes author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.


"Slade traces Gershwin's early talents and rise to fame as a 'daring' composer who wove together myriad musical forms with city sounds, building toward the triumph of the composition and first performance of a 'musical kaleidoscope of America's melting pot-Rhapsody in Blue.' Swirly acrylic paintings and hand-lettering in a palette of almost all blues perfectly visualize the ‘razzmatazz dazzling’ music." —The Horn Book Magazine  

* “One of American music’s masterpieces, ‘Rhapsody in Blue,’ is introduced here along with its composer, George Gershwin…. Slade and Innerst... work beautifully together to create a book that builds to a crescendo just as ‘Rhapsody’ does. The swirling text wraps around the inventive (and mostly blue) art, both literally and figuratively, capturing the time period as well as the dazzling musical piece…. This is fitting celebration of a musical milestone—keep a copy of the song cued up for curious listeners." Booklist, starred review  

* "Slade teams up with Innerst for this pleasant picture book biography of composer George Gershwin… Innerst’s acrylic spreads are almost entirely done in blue and gray tones, with broad brushstrokes, scanned textiles, and paper adding texture; each scene is striking. Slade’s narrative is highly readable and lightly peppered with musical onomatopoeia.... A detailed author’s note, time line, and bibliography add further depth to this well-researched work.  Readers will get a glimpse into Gershwin’s mind and find the music within. Highly recommended." School Library Journal, starred review

* "Slade illuminates George Gershwin's creative process, from inception to premiere of "Rhapsody in Blue."… Innerst's acrylic-on-paper compositions, in a striking palette of indigo, sepia, and white, whimsically evoke both the period and the composer's creativity…. Bravo!" —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Kirkus Review, starred review July 1, 2016 Slade illuminates George Gershwin's creative process, from inception to premiere of "Rhapsody in Blue." "I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise." Gershwin's assertion in the epigraph propels this playful portrait of one of American music's greatest innovators. Young George plies New York's streets, hearing classical music in penny arcades and jazz outside Harlem clubs. He takes piano lessons, creates music scrapbooks, sneaks into concerts, and writes songs, selling his first at age 17. Later, "Swanee," plucked out on a "bumpy bus ride," sells millions of copies, making Gershwin famous. Seeking to legitimize jazz, bandleader Paul Whiteman plans "An Experiment in Modern Music," inviting Gershwin to perform. George plans a "dazzling, daring piece." Bound for Boston on business, he's inspired by the train's accelerating syncopation: "Rattle-ty-BANG! Rattle-ty-BANG!" His favorite musical forms "blended together into one beautiful rhapsody. George heard his concerto. He even saw the notes on paper!" Innerst's acrylic-on-paper compositions, in a striking palette of indigo, sepia, and white, whimsically evoke both the period and the composer's creativity. Young George roller-skates past brownstones with shop signs that reflect his musical immersion: "Sharp & Sons," "Allegro Co." The final spread marvelously integrates words and images as the premiere ends. "No one had ever heard anything like it. Except George. He'd been hearing beautiful music all his life." George sits at the concert piano, in tails—and roller skates. Bravo! (author's note, illustrator's note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)    

Meet the Author

Suzanne Slade

Suzanne Slade is the award-winning author of dozens of children’s nonfiction books, including The Inventor’s Secret, Friends for Freedom, and The House That George Built. She lives in Libertyville, Illinois, with her husband, two children, and adorable dog, Corduroy.

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Meet the Illustrator

Stacy Innerst

Stacy Innerst is an artist and the illustrator of numerous picture books for children, including Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation by Peggy Thomas and M Is for Music by Kathleen Krull, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Other Books by Stacy Innerst