Blue Grass Boy – The Story of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music, is set for release next month. It is a charming picture book for young readers, that tells of the life of Big Mon in words easily understood by its target age group.
Written by Barb Rosenstock and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, the 9 x 10”, 40 page book is filled with bright colors and engaging images on every page, and brings the young reader in right away by starting Bill’s story with him as a youngster. Rosenstock dedicates several pages with Monroe living with his family in Kentucky, and his difficulties as a child, before embarking on his musical adventures.
She shows the passing of Bill’s mom as a major turning point in his young life, and tells how he searched for the sound of his mother’s voice in musical instruments. Those of us who have a familiarity with Monroe’s life won’t learn anything new here, but if you are sharing your love for bluegrass with your child or grandchild, the two of you should enjoy reading the book together. Parents, grandparents, and aunts or uncles could supply more details as the story proceeds, going through Bill’s youth and his success in the music business.
It should be a simple thing for any 2nd or 3rd grader to place themselves into the story, which includes most of the important milestones of his life. Uncle Pen is there, along with The Monroe Brothers, Arnold Schultz, and the Grand Ole Opry. Omitted is any reference to Flatt & Scruggs, which seems appropriate in a highly abridged look at Bill Monroe, as a children’s book must be.
This not a chapter book for advanced readers. Each page contains a full page image and no more than a couple of sentences of text. It could easily read to pre-schoolers who like a good story, or new readers learning more words. The publisher, Calkins Creek, recommends it for grades 4-7, though children as old as 7th grade could easily read it to younger siblings.
It concludes with a pair of appendices, one a detailed bibliography for older readers seeking more information about Monroe, and the other a more detailed biography. The book ends with a photo of Bill and the lyrics to Uncle Pen.
Pre-orders for Blue Grass Boy are being accepted now through Barb’s web site. The attractive, hardcover book has a price of $17.95.