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Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum

by Robert Andrew Parker

Published by Schwartz and Wade, 2008
32 pages
ISBN: 978-0375839658

Ages 6-9

Podcast featuring this book

“When I am at the piano, I close my eyes. I play clouds of notes, rivers of notes, notes that sound like skylarks singing and leaves rustling, like rain on a rooftop. I forget that my eyes aren’t good. I have everything I need.” Robert Andrew Parker blends facts and imaginative details to depict the life of pianist Art Tatum in a stirring picture book biography. Parker weaves family, music, and community into the melody of Tatum’s life, much like Tatum’s style of creating new music from many strands: “I can play one song and then weave another song in and out and through it.” The African American musician was born in Toledo and grew up in the first part of the twentieth century. Parker’s exquisite watercolor illustrations display a subtle shift in tone and feel as Tatum matures from a child eager to play and experiment into a brilliant adult musician in a book that concludes with additional information about Tatum, a bibliography and, best of all, Parker’s own reminiscence of hearing Tatum live in 1946. (MS) ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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