by Anna Harwell Celenza, illustrated by JoAnn Kitchel (Charlesbridge)
American composer George Gershwin discovered by reading the newspaper that he was scheduled to debut a jazz concerto at a concert to be attended by the world's musical elite in a matter of five weeks, a publicity stunt pulled by an ambitious promoter. It seems like an impossible task, until George tunes in to the tempo of New York. "Klezmer, foxtrot, ragtime and blues. My concerto will be a tuneful kaleidoscope--a rhapsody about the music that surrounds me!" This is a wonderfully readable picture book biography celebrates how an artist synthesized what was around him in order to create a masterpiece; as George heard music in the train moving on the track, can children hear the music that surrounds them?
This book also includes a CD recording of Gershwin performing Rhapsody in Blue in 1925! Everyone in America needs to know this piece of our cultural heritage outside of the commercial ditty co-opted for American Airlines, and this sure is a delightful way to receive it. (6 and up)