Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow

Jimi: Sounds Like A Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix is written by Gary Golio, and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe, using mixed media in colors both bright and pastel, on plywood. Hendrix was fascinated with music, sound, art, and color at an early age. As a young boy, he even used a broom as a pretend guitar, playing and singing to an imaginary audience in his bedroom. He listened constantly to blues, jazz, gospel, classical, folk, and rock and roll music, but was also mesmerized by sounds he heard in the street and in nature, and by the colors of things around him. In his mind, according to the author, colors had sounds to them, and he wondered "Could someone paint pictures with sound?"

 Realizing the importance of music to his son, Jimi's father finally bought him an old wooden guitar for $5. Jimi practiced and practiced, and found he could use the guitar to express the colors/sounds he heard in his head. He discovered he had "a rainbow of sound at his fingertips." When he was able to obtain a cheap electric guitar, the rainbow became even louder, and people really noticed the new kind of music he was making. Golio's poetic and vibrant language captures the excitement of Hendrix's unique talent and creativity. In an afterword, Golio also talks about Hendrix's early death, resulting from an accidental drug overdose. In addition to including resources about Hendrix and his music, Golio includes websites (such as thecoolspot.gov) and other resources to help young people understand the dangers of drug and alcohol use. This book is in picture book format, and is highly recommended for grades 4-8. Parents who are Jimi Hendrix fans may also wish to share this book with somewhat younger children.