Becky Birtha's Reviews > The Steel Pan Man of Harlem

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem by Colin Bootman
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Jul 13, 2011

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bookshelves: african-american-interest, picture-book
Read in July, 2011

Colin Bootman's story is based on a retelling of Browning's "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," a poem that impressed him when he heard it in the school library at age seven. The piper is recast as a steel drum player, and the enchantment, once the rats are gone, is cast on adults, not children. A bright, almost garish color palette helps to underscore that this is fantasy, in the scenes of 1930s or 40s Harlem folks, white and black, dancing and being unable to stop. I wished that my father were still alive to share this one with me. As a public health official, he chaired our city's rat control program for several years. He also especially liked Colin Bootman's illustrations, and he would have enjoyed the humorous portrayals of the rats.
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