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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  173 Ratings  ·  49 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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Cindy Dobrez
Jan 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
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
Nov 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
This is a beautifully illustrated and insightful biography of jazz pianist Art Tatum. The watercolors are lush, the prose heartfelt and often poetic. I love that the author chose to write in first person, because it adds a tangibility to Tatum's story. I would recommended this to jazz fans of all ages and lovers of picture books.
Destiny Leskovac
Piano Starts Here is a heartwarming story about young, nearly blind Art Tatum. Art began playing piano early in his childhood. He played at church, birthday parties and bake sales. Everyone admired him and loved his music. As he continued to grow, he got even better at piano. He made money playing all over the country. This book wonderfully depicts what an inspiration Art Tatum was. Although he was nearly blind, he didn’t let that stop him. He became a world-renowned musician who followed his dr ...more
Heather Gettys
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: diversity
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Viji Balakrishnan
This book was good. Its genre is nonfiction and I believe it is a biography. To me, I would much rather read fiction over nonfiction so I do not know if this would be exactly interesting to the kids. It was a sequence of events in the life of Young Art Tatum, but I could not see a clear problem and resolution in the plot. What I did like about this book though is that a piano, an inanimate object, brought so much happiness, comfort and peace to a man to the extent that he never felt unjust for b ...more
Amy Forrester
Nov 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mary Little
Oct 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kindergarten through 3rd grade
Brief Review
I'm always a sucker for a story that centers around someone overcoming adversity through the arts. This biography and Schneider Family Book Award winner tells the story of a young Art Tatum. He was born in 1910 with very poor vision. Although his vision was limited, he had a very sophisticated ear for music. Despite being blind, Art Tatum was able to reach his full potential due to hard work and the love and support of his family and community. The story is a little slow for younger
Amber Bush
Oct 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: libs-642
Parker, R. (2008). Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Schwartz & Wade.

Picture Book Project

Choice/ 2009 Schneider Family Book Award/ALSC 2009 Notable Children's Books/ Sibert Honor Book

This picture book shows the life of Jazz pianist, Art Tatum. I actually came across this book a few semesters ago when I took a History of Jazz course and thought it would be interesting to include in my classroom. The illustrations really highlight the mood of the book and makes readers feel like they are
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
Paul Farbman
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Until this book I had only a little knowledge of Art Tatum, and for those children who love music, this will be an inspiration. He had very poor eyesight, so very early in his childhood stayed inside, and eventually, started experimenting with the piano. Thank goodness his family had one! Told in first person, it’s an amazing story of one of the jazz greats illustrated also by the author in beautiful watercolor portraits and scenes. Tatum was asked to play as early as ten years old by his pastor ...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
Anna Baker
Absolutely loved this book. I had no idea Art Tatum had eye issues. This is a great book to read with children able to focus on longer books. It is absolutely beautifully written. Hearing or reading books written well promotes reading development, writing development and a love of reading. This book would be good to read when discussing people with disabilities or exceptionalities. I think reading about Art Tatum's trouble with vision will promote empathy and respect for others with similar stru ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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

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
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.
Jan 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, childrens
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.
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
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.
John Schlotfelt
Beautiful water colors bolster the short tale of Art Tatum's early years. The story of a young Tatum who overcame near blindness to become one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time is a great one to teach about strengths despite perceived weaknesses and also the power of art and expression for all children.
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.
Nov 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ch-02-award
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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