Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue

Anna Harwell Celenza
Illustrator:  Joann E. Kitchel 
Nonfiction Picture Book and music CD
For ages 6 to 10
Charlesbridge, 2006   ISBN: 978-1570915567

George Gershwin is not at all pleased when he finds out that he is going to have to write a whole piano concerto in just a few weeks. And how does he find out? From the newspaper. It would appear that his friend Paul Whitman has announced to the world that George's concerto is going to be featured in "An Experiment in Modern Music" concert during which it is hoped that the question "what is American music" will be addressed. George is not at all sure that he can write a concerto at all. It is a musical form that he has never tried before.

One thing George Gershwin is not is a quitter so he gets to work. Or at least he tries to. Unfortunately he cannot seem to find a single note in his head. He cannot find the inspiration he needs to create this already famous concerto that does not, as yet, exist. Dispiritedly George gets on a train to go Boston to attend a rehearsal there and as he hears the train wheels clack, he starts to remember strains of melodies and rhythms that he has heard. Perhaps he can take all these musical memories and create a piece of music out of them.

This is just what George did and when he performed it on February 12th, 1924, Rhapsody in Blue was an instant hit. Evocative rhythms and textures, new music and old were combined to create a piece which was a perfect reflection of American life.

This is a wonderful telling of the story of one of America?s most well known pieces of music. Readers will come to see how George Gershwin was inspired to write the Rhapsody and how he was able to do so in an incredibly short period of time. At the back of the book the author includes a note which provides the reader with further information about this wonderful American tale.