Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
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Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Regardless of whether they’ve heard of jazz or Art Tatum, young readers will appreciate how Parker uses simple, lyrical storytelling and colorful and energetic ink-and-wash illustrations to show the world as young Art Tatum might have seen it. Tatum came from modest beginnings and was nearly blind, but his passion for the piano and his acute memory for any sound that he he...more
ebook, 40 pages
Published December 19th 2012 by Schwartz & Wade (first published January 8th 2008)
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Off to hunt up a cd of Tatum playing...I love picture book biographies of artists and musicians.
So many of the biographies of jazz musicians take on such a far-fetched artistic approach that they lose some of their gravity. This book didn't fall prey to that classic mistake. It was a biography in the truest sense. I enjoyed this. I know that I have no business speaking on the members of the jazz community, but I felt comfortable reading this anyway. The first person point of view was an interesting choice that gave the text a subtle humanized quality. Rather than reading about this musicia...more
Paul Farbman
Apr 30, 2014 Paul Farbman rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Children with disabilities
Recommended to Paul by: Terry Benton
This picture book biography tells the story of young Art Tatum, a jazz pianist. It is a great story for children who might be suffering from a disability and those that love music.

Art Tatum suffered from poor vision. The blurred quality of the illustrations give us an idea of what the world must have looked like through his eyes. The text vividly describes the senses of touch, smell, and hearing that Tatum used to make up for his lack of vision.

Relating to five categories of music in children's...more
Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum explores the early life of the influential jazz pianist through lyrical prose and bright illustrations that show the world as Art Tatum might have seen it. Tatum came from modest beginnings and was nearly blind, but his passion for the piano and his acute memory for any sound that he heard drove him to become a virtuoso who was revered by both classical and jazz pianists alike.

This is a picture book biography. It emphasizes the youth of Art Tatum and his fa...more
Art Tatum was a stranger to me before I read this book. And now, after reading it, I feel as if I actually knew him. Tatum was born with severely limited vision, but he is still able to become an amazing piano player despite that. I am absolutely amazed by this. He was able to listen to a song on the radio and then play it on the piano with his own improvisations and with perfect technique. Incredible. Parker does an amazing job of conveying a sense of Tatum's character, both in the text and ill...more
Schneider Picture Book Award Winner
Parker has won previous honors for his illustrations, but this is his first award as an author/illustrator. Like the best books, he's writing from his own passion as he is a jazz musician himself. The story focuses on Art Tatum's early years, and has won the Schneider Award for an artistic depiction of the disability experience for a child audience. Art Tatum was born with limited vision but doesn't let that impact his music. When his mother tells him to play...more
Amy Musser
Before Art Tatum became one of the most celebrated jazz pianists he was a boy in Toledo, Ohio. Art was born with severely limited vision, so instead of playing outside he would stay inside playing the piano in the living room. As Tatum grows older his gift for music earned him recognition. First, he played at church, at the YMCA, and on assembly days at school. Soon after, he played piano in bars and nightclubs and eventually on the radio. As Tatum’s fame grew he traveled far from his family and...more
Age: K-4th

Genre: Biography

Summary: This is the story of the life of Art Tatum, who has been playing piano his whole life, and becomes one of the best jazz pianists.

Curriculum Connection: This book incorporates music, and can also be used for a study of biographies.

Personal Reaction: I liked the way the story focused on how Art became a musician, how he struggled and where he started from, rather than focusing solely on his accomplishments.
Brogan Todd
This book shared a beautiful story about the boy who fell in love with music. Regardless of his disability he found a love in life and was happy with what he had. I will be using this in my classroom to demonstrate overcoming obstacles is a way of life and how it is how you respond that will make you who you are! I really enjoyed this book!
Parker, Robert Andrew. 2008. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Random House.

I was unfamiliar with this author and this artist. Art Tatum, I've come to learn, is a considered one of the all-time greats of jazz piano. A story that becomes only more inspirational when I learned that he was born nearly blind.

"Still, bad eyes can't keep me from playing the piano. My hands get to know the short black ones on top and long white ones below. I play more and more. And more. When my father leaves in...more
This book is about a boy who is blind and learns to play the piano. The boy plays the piano so well he begins to travel all over town and begins to make a profit. I enjoyed this book and I love how the boy brings joy to peoples ears with his amazing talent.
Art Tatum took an interest in music from an early age and taught himself to play the piano, despite his limited eye sight. As he got older, Art became more and more skilled at improvisational playing, playing the piano with unheard of speed, creativty and style. Throughout his life, Art proved that even with his failing eyesight, he could still be one of the best jazz musicians of all time. The impressionistic and fluid watercolor illustrations of Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum fit nic...more
I am not in the jazz loop at all, but I still thought it would be cool to read about Art Tatum. The book didn't make clear if he is totally blind or partially blind, but at a young age he took interest in the piano that sat in their living room (such a cute picture of a toddler on tiptoe reaching up for the keys of the piano). As it turned out, he was a prodigy who could play whatever he heard including weaving songs together. This book tells the story of his learning to play (apparently totally...more
Audience: This book is primarily for grades K-3. This book is lengthy for the younger grades but has some simple context that they can relate to.

Appeal: This book is appealing because the pictures look hand drawn. Also, this book is appealing because it talks about overcoming hardships.

Application: I would use this in my classroom to talk about life obstacles, differences, and accomplishments that come with each of those.

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children's Books 2009

This book isn't really much different from other picture book biographies. Good information, nice illustrations. But what made this book stand out for me--and in a sense change my life--is that it introduced me to a musician I'd never known--Art Tatum.After reading, I looked him up on YouTube and found some video clips. I really like his style of piano. After sharing this book with a child, go online and listen to some of Tatum's amazing playing.
Another jazz book for kids! This one is for kids that are a bit older, but it's never too early to start reading good books (with good art) to your kid.

This one is about Art Tatum, one of the greatest jazz pianists of all times. It's the great story of how Art Tatum came to become one of the greatest jazz pianists of all times. And it manages to tug at your heartstrings just a little bit, too.
Breezy, evocative images and fondly recalled, first-person narrative provide an intimate — if imagined — look at the early life and loves of Jazz legend, Art Tatum.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.
April Helms
An easy-to-follow book on Art Tatum, a gifted piano player who was born with severe vision problems. It starts from his childhood and goes to young adulthood, where he is beginning to make a name for himself. I like the illustrations -- they have a feel of being a memory. I like the biographical information at the back, which will be handy for students doing reports.
I'm not sure this is a pure biography because the notes say the author "filled in the blanks" some. Nice story of a jazz pianist, who played in the 20s, 30s, 40s (and 50s?). Focuses on his years growing up as he started playing piano and naturally moved into professional playing. The beautiful watercolor illustrations really add to the "feel" of the story.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
This book was the 2009 Schneider Family Award winner for best picture book about someone with a disability. I didn't know that Art Tatum was almost blind. I'm not a fan of jazz, but reading this text, about how brilliantly he played the piano, made me want to dig out a CD and sample some of his music. It's a shame he died at the relatively young age of 46.
This book was a very good read! The part that I liked the most were the illustrations. It was definitely a different view than most illustrators take in books. This almost reminded me of Stevie Wonder when I first saw that it was about a visually impaired pianist. Definitely an inspirational book. Very cool.
Loved the gentle loving test that describes Art Tatum's childhood and rise to fame. There is a curiously tender feel throughout the book that would make this a quiet read at bedtime. Didn't care as much for the watercolor illustrations but I am not sure why
Beautiful watercolor illustrations and first-person-perspective text contribute to the dreamy feeling of a young boy with poor eyesight growing up to become one of the world's jazz greats. Combine this with old, scratchy YouTube recordings for maximum impact.
Nice biography about Art Tatum and how he learned to play the piano with severe impairment to his sight. Lots of references to the piece "humoresque" by Antonin Dvorak. This would be a nice tie-in to listening to that piece of classical music.
Roxanne Hsu Feldman
I'm so glad to read this book, written (his first) by one of my favorite illustrators Robert Andrew Parker. He has a straightforward and fluid style, echoing his own artwork, perfect for delivering the young life of a legendary Jazz pianist.
I love any book that tells a story from black history with a positive role model and this book is a great one for that, telling the story of the jazz pianist Art Tatum.
Katie Shaw
Beautiful story about the young Art Tatum. Kids will love the gorgeous illustrations and the heartfelt words describing Art Tatum's love for music and the piano.
I loved the illistraions in this book. It was very well written. I also thought it was interesting that it all started in Toledo Ohio.
This is lovely & I'm so glad to see the jazz-musician-picture-book-biography genre expanding and thriving. More, please.
Lenora added it
Jul 18, 2014
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