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The Music in George's Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  238 ratings  ·  74 reviews
George Gershwin heard music all the time—at home, at school, even on New York City’s busy streets. Classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz—George’s head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz! With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin combined various kinds of music to crea ...more
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published September 13th 2016 by Calkins Creek
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4.13  · 
Rating details
 ·  238 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, bios, music
I absolutely love this book. I am a huge George Gershwin fan, so it seemed natural for me to pick it up and absorb it immediately upon seeing it. The illustrations are marvelous and fit perfectly with the story of how George came to write his masterpiece, "Rhapsody in Blue". I hope children will pick this one up - not many know who he is anymore. Maybe the adults in their lives will see this, get it for them, and introduce them to this amazing composer, as well as to his music.
Sharon Lawler
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Everything about this book pulled me in--from the rendering of the cityscape on the endpapers, to the changing shades of blue in the artwork, to the mash-up of hand lettering and text. George Gershwin listened to and absorbed the sounds around him, whether they be the classical music in the arcade, the ragtime in Harlem, the city noise around him, or the sound of the train on which he was traveling. Includes an Author's Note, Timeline and Bibliography.
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I was delighted to see this book for children on Gershwin, which is subtitled “George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue.”

As the book begins, the author reports that Gershwin, even as a child, heard music in his head all the time in the streets of New York where he grew up. His mother bought a piano for George and his brother Ira, but Ira decided he had no interest. As for George though, as the author reports, “When he felt those smooth keys beneath his fingers, his face lit up like the lights on
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author, Suzanne Slade, has done it again! She has written a delightful picture book about a historical figure. This book on George Gershwin is illustrated by Stacy Innerst with joyful notes and scenes in blue and black representing the creation of the musical piece, Rhapsody in Blue. We learn about the childhood of this musical genius and his rise to fame combining his love of classical, ragtime, blues and jazz into his written scores. Page after page helps the reader flow musically through ...more
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I did not expect to read anything today that would trump the finale to Aaron Becker’s epic Journey trilogy. But I picked up this lovely, energetic, well-produced picture book on a whim, as I so enjoy listening to Gershwin, and ended up being blown away.
Laura (Book Scrounger)
While living in the UK, my family somehow acquired a cassette tape (yes, this was in the 90s) at a gas station (or petrol, as they called it there) called "Miles of Classical." It contained several well-known orchestral pieces of music, including Strauss's "Blue Danube," a movement from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake," and, the fifth and last piece on side 1 of the cassette, George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue," or at least an abbreviated version of it.

Other than "The Nutcracker," I didn't have much l
Mar 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I learned things about George Gershwin I never knew and the blue and brown illustrations made this book really special. One of my new favorite nonfiction biography picture books.
Baby Bookworm
Sep 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: our-reviews

This review was originally written for The Baby Bookworm. Visit us for new picture books reviews daily!

Hello, friends! Sorry we missed our review yesterday, but we’re back today with The Music In George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody In Blue, written by Suzanne Slade and illustrated by Stacy Innerst, a magnificent look at the composer’s inspiration for the celebrated concerto.

Even as a boy, George Gershwin heard and felt music all around him, even when there was none playing. He could
Oct 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love all the wonderful picture book biographies that are being created now, and I really wish they had been around when I was a child. (Does anyone else remember reading those Childhood of Famous Americans books?) Suzanne Slade's new book on George Gershwin is captivating in its presentation of how Gershwin grew up to become one of America's most famous songwriters. And Stacy Innerst's illustrations take the coloring from George's "Rhapsody in Blue" and use it as a signature palette throughout ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Slade and Innerst have created a great picture book biography that can be used with all ages. George could always hear music in his head that was many times initiated by sounds such as horns (beep beep), trains (click click clack), dancer (tap tap), and famous singers at concerts he attended. Even as a child, he was composing music at his piano from the sounds he heard. He sold his first song at 17. The climax of the book is the composition and performance of “Rhapsody in Blue”. Innerst color sc ...more
I loved reading this story, love all of Gershman's music. What a gift he had, and this particular one tells about his beginnings, roller skating by jazz clubs and staying to listen for hours. When the family finally purchased a piano they were astounded to see him play a sophisticated tune immediately. It's simply a story about Rhapsody In Blue, where George got his idea, and the marvelous parts added by chance. Stacy Innerst, illustrator, shares that her depictions are based on archival photogr ...more
"George's Rhapsody in Blue was smooth and sultry.
Brash and bouncy...
No one had ever heard anything like it.
Except George.
He'd been hearing beautiful music all his life."

As a youngster, beautiful is certainly not the word I would have ever used to describe George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. But just as my palate for different, more sophisticated foods has expanded as an adult, so too has my ear for music. Now instead of groaning every time I hear the introductory shrieking notes of the clarine
"I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise." George Gershwin

What a fascinating read about the creative process of George Gershwin. (Some of the most famous clarinet notes in history started as a joke??) It gives me an even greater appreciation of Rhapsody in Blue, which seemed to have burst fully scored from the rattling of a train. So amazing.

While reading, listen to this Leonard Bernstein & NY Philharmonic version. It's gorgeous!

A great au
Viviane Elbee
Interesting non-fiction biography about George Gershwin's musical career.
Jaime Small
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-ycl
I had heard the name Gershwin and couldn’t remember why it was familiar until I looked it up and saw that it is where Wicked has been playing on Broadway for over 10 years. The book talks about how George felt about music and mentions Broadway “When he felt those smooth keys beneath his fingers, his face lit up like the lights on Broadway.” I really enjoyed learning more about a man who was so influential to music.
The illustrations are beautiful as well as the text contributing to telling the s
Mackenzie Wardle
George was a young boy living in New York city that seemed to always be hearing music wherever he went. No one knew George's strong love and interest in music until his mother bought him a second hand piano. George studied music whenever he could and snuck into concerts to hear famous musicians such as Liszt, Ornstein, and Busoni. He got a job at a music store when he was fifteen and at age seventeen, he sold his first sheet music. By 1920, everyone knew of George Gershwin. He knew everything fo ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Aug 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
On our voyage through the orchestra we’ve come to the clarinet. I did a search on the library’s database for books for children with the clarinet as a key point and it gave me this. A book about George Gershwin writing Rhapsody in Blue! Fabulous! And the iconic beginning with the clarinet doing that gorgeous swoop is perfect for illustrating it at homeschool. Oh, how I love YouTube as I played it while I read this book aloud, and then played it again while they drew a picture in response to the ...more
Madeline Krasnasky
I wasn't a fan of this book. It was interesting but not entertaining. The colors of blue and blacks related to the smooth and calming sounds of actual jazz music, however, this also created a lack of excitement. I enjoyed how the worked on the pages "danced" as if they were actually music being played. The pictures were very undetailed but presented the reader with an idea of what was going on or where the story was taking place. Due to the fancy writing and placement of words, it was sometimes ...more
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautiful blue-toned acrylic paintings illustrate this picture book story of George Gershwin as a child, showing how he loved music, hearing it everywhere in the city noises around him, and how he grew up to become a "song plugger" playing Tin Pan Alley songs before composing his own music. The text gives a nice description of the music he composes, envisioning the combination of jazz and blues, and the visual design imparts this by using hand-lettered phrases flowing through the pages like musi ...more
Beth Anderson
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully woven thread of hearing music in everyday life carries the reader through George Gershwin’s life. We discover how those sounds inspired him and how his exposure to new genres of music added to the mix in his head and affected his compositions. Gershwin’s story is a great example of how we are shaped by our environment and experiences. The illustrations, featuring a multitude of blues, are lively and inviting. The text joins in to also graphically express the feelings evoked by musi ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I can't gush about this too much. Stacy Innerst's illustrations with all those blues just WOW me. I'm compelled to return again and again to admire them. The typeface, text, and these illustrations are inseparable from the narrative. It all came together to enthral me in this picture biography of George Gershwin.
Mar 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Miss Sarah
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
An easy to follow picture book biography of music composer George Gershwin's compostition of the song Rhapsody in blue. I liked how focusing only on this song allowed more knowledge of his isnpiration. the author's note adds more to Gershwin's life. Elemnetary and up
Maureen Tully
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written and illustrated, plus it includes a great Author's Note and Timeline at the end that adds more details. It gives me a whole new appreciation for Gershin's music, especially the opening of his Rhapsody in Blue
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book! Great period, urban illustrations. The story was lyrical and creative. I plan to share and teach this book with multiple grades. I'll use Gershwin music, and teach genre. I can easily compare/contrast Biography and Fiction. There are several literary elements used in this book, too. I can't wait to get a copy for my school library!
Lynn  Davidson
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
George Gershwin had an amazing talent for music. He heard music in everything and his compositions were created from what he heard and combined into something beautiful.
This book tells about him and how he became famous, including how Rhapsody in Blue came to be.

Betsy Davis
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: waw-2017
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Beautifully presented
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
good for musicians, interesting
Love this biography of George Gershwin! Wonderful illustrations and well written. The layouts are fun and add to the energy which related to his love of music.
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