Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World

Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World

Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson, Jared Levine
Illustrator:  Illustrated by a selection of illus 
Nonfiction book and 2 CDs
For ages 9 and up
Tundra Books, 2013   ISBN: 978-1770495715

Many children connect with music when they are still very young. Grownups all over the world get to see their little ones jigging and wiggling to popular music that they hear on the radio or that someone is playing on a CD or MP3 player. Often we want to share music written for children with them, only to find out that they connect more readily and happily with the rock, jazz, bebop, or soul that we are listening to.

   Wanting to give children the opportunity to learn about great music and musicians, musician and performer Robbie Robertson got together with some friends to explore music and to see how they could share their love of music with young listeners. After hours of discussion they decided to look at “the music that changed the world.” They wanted to showcase the lives and work of artists who were “the original risk-takers, extremely unique, and tremendously influential to future generations.” They ended up with twenty-seven portraits of musicians, each one of which tells an incredible story.

  When Robbie was a young man in 1956 he and many other people loved the music of Chuck Berry, “The Father of Rock and Roll.” Like many other musicians who worked to develop the rock and roll sound, Chuck combined “white country music with African-American rhythm and blues.” What made his version of rock and roll different was the way in which he presented his music to his mostly teenage audience. He understood their problems and spoke directly to them through his music by combining memorable lyrics, skillful guitar playing, and powerful performances.

   As a boy, Robbie was greatly moved when he heard Louis Armstrong’s trumpet playing and his one-of-a-kind singing. There is something about Armstrong’s gravelly voice that makes him accessible to listeners of all ages. Though Louis Armstrong had a hard time for many years, struggling against poverty and prejudice, he did not give up his dream to be a musician one day. After a spell in a juvenile detention center, Louis Armstrong became a young man on a mission. He began playing in bars in New Orleans, joined a band, and began to bloom as a skillful musician whose music delighted all kinds of audiences.

   In this exceptional book fabulous art, engaging biographies, quotes, and interesting facts are combined to give readers a memorable book experience. Many of the songs mentioned in the book can be found on the two included CDs. As they turn the pages young readers (and adults) will find out about all kinds of music that had an impact on people around the world. They will get to know The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole and many other wonderful musicians whose songs will delight music lovers for years to come.