Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix

Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix

Gary Golio
Illustrator:  Javaka Steptoe 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Clarion Books, 2010   ISBN: 978-0618852796

   Jimi Hendrix and his father lived together in apartments around Seattle. They moved as their fortunes changed, but Jimi had his two friends, Terry and Potato Chip, who did not care about how he looked or where he lived. They loved to look at Jimmy’s drawings, to listen to his stories, and they marveled at the way he could “imitate guitars and trumpets with his mouth and hands.” Together the boys spent hours at the record store, reveling in the amazing new music that Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, B.B. King and others were producing.

   Jimi spent hours painting and drawing, and at the same time tunes swirled around in his mind and he wondered if someone could “paint pictures with sound.” Then one day he heard a neighbor playing the blues on an old guitar and the music charmed him so much that he begged his father to buy the instrument for him.

   On the old worn out guitar Jimi began to teach himself how to play, and as he explored the world of music through his instrument “Every note, every chord, was like a new color.” He was making pictures out of sounds and the process delighted and fascinated him. Thus began a journey that would take him all over the world and that would, one day, make him a household name that music lovers of all ages would never forget.

   This very special picture book biography tells the story of some important moments in Jimi Hendrix’s life, moments when he was young and just beginning to learn about the varied and colorful world of music.

   At the back of the book readers will find further information about Jimi Hendrix’s life. There are also notes from the author and illustrator, and information about substance abuse in young people. Jimi was only twenty-seven when he died after combining prescription drugs and alcohol. The deadly combination meant that we lost a remarkable musician far too soon.