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Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters
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Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters

4.36  ·  Rating details ·  445 ratings  ·  134 reviews
A picture book celebration of the indomitable Muddy Waters, a blues musician whose fierce and electric sound laid the groundwork for what would become rock and roll.

Muddy Waters was never good at doing what he was told. When Grandma Della said the blues wouldn’t put food on the table, Muddy didn’t listen. And when record producers told him no one wanted to listen to a coun
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
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David Schaafsma
A picturebook biography of Muddy Waters, who came north to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta to help define the city's blues tradition. In Chicago, the city's music people wanted him to be jazzier, but he kept that muddy Mississippi waters in his sound.

"I can't Be Satisfied":

"I'm Ready for You":

The art by Evan Turk is marvelous, better than the writing of this NY Times picture book honored in 2017. (Who cares if th
Laura Harrison
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am going to have to come back later to form words for this title. Right night all I can say is it is simply glorious. The story and the illustrations. There is no illustrator today quite like Evan Turk. In a perfect world his name would be as popular and widely known as Mo Willems. Different art techniques for sure but just as creative and wonderful.
Karen Witzler
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A corrective to the question asked by the Beatles upon their arrival in the US, "Don't you know your own famous people?" This is a children's picture book biography of Muddy Waters (McKinley Morganfield), one of the progenitors of modern American music. Evan Turk's Illustrations are gorgeous and draw the reader into Mahin's text. One of the NYT 10 Best Illustrated Books of 2017, this book covers aspects of The Great Migration and the development of American music and popular culture through Mudd ...more
Mississippi Library Commission
Muddy is amazing! The illustrations pop--they're unique and gorgeous and utterly awesome. The text is lovely too--rhythmic and inspiring and lyrical. This picture book biography, a perfect introduction to Muddy Waters, also manages to impart the lesson of being true to yourself. Highly recommended.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It’s hard to read Muddy without sinking your teeth into the rhythm of the words and letting the rumble of their textures and meanings shake you as they lead you through the story of Muddy Waters’ life. We don’t really know enough about his childhood for this biography to be perfectly factual, but it does an incredible job of communicating the feel of his journey to and through music. The pictures, too, seem to vibrate with shapes and colors, graphic and bold, abstract patterns and lines showing ...more
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It seems a recurring theme permeates picture book biographies. It is a theme which serves to inspire anyone who reads or listens to these titles being read to them. The people being showcased in these books, who have left a lasting mark on human history, pursue their heart's desire. They never, never, ever give up. Regardless of advice given, they stay true to their dreams. They believe in their capabilities. For this reason our world is better for them having lived their lives as they did.

It do
Henry Herz
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had the pleasure of accessing an Advanced Reader Copy. This book fires on all cylinders. The writing is lyrical and emotional. The artwork is stunning. I was not surprised to learn that it was nominated for the "Mock Caldecott" award. A great non-fiction story about the blues, perseverance and overcoming adversity.
Dec 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautifully illustrated book about the blues legend, Muddy Waters. This book was told in a way that would appeal to children, yet it also is for adults who want to read a little about the artist. The biggest thing that this book reflected to me, was the fact, that like with many great artists of different professions (artists, singers, writers, etc.) The greater of heartaches and struggles in life make for the most meaningful, creative and soulful expression through their craft that there is. Th ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
McKinley Morganfield was raised by his Grandma Della who called him Muddy. He was brought up with gospel music from church but loved other music more, the music heard at fish fries, the blues. But his grandmother didn’t approve and didn’t want Muddy to waste his time playing music. Muddy though could not stay away from music and saved money to get his own guitar. When not playing music, Muddy worked in the cotton fields until one day he walked out. He headed for Chicago, but no one there was int ...more
Gary Anderson
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Muddy is a powerful picture book biography of McKinley Morganfield, better known as blues legend Muddy Waters. As a child in Mississippi, little McKinley “was never good at doing what he was told.” That included keeping clean, so his Grandma Della just took to calling him Muddy. Muddy’s insistence on doing things his own way made it hard for him to stay employed in the Jim Crow South, so he came to Chicago to play music, his way. Author Michael Mahin emphasizes how Muddy was always true to how h ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
WOW. This is a great book from start to finish. The final sentence in the author's note just punches you in the gut: "Despite all of his achievements, Muddy did have one major regret: he never had a chance to go to school, and he never learned to read or write." That fact is going to be an eye opener for plenty of kids and some adults... and only makes Muddy's story all the more amazing.

This picture book biography is long overdue, but it was worth the wait. A great story, a great book, a great d
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful tale about one of the greatest blues icons of our times.
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful picture book about the life of Muddy Waters (born McKinley Morganfield--now that's a cool name too!). His grandma gave him his nickname for always playing in the mud. Gorgeous artwork illustrates the book, with vibrant colors, abstract images. Author's note gives full details that aren't spelled out in the simple picturebook text.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though I am not a jazz or blues music fan, I have heard of Muddy Waters. Somewhere this book came to my attention, and it seemed like a good introduction. The vividly colored illustrations are what would make the book appealing to children, I think. But it also is a beautiful way to introduce to black children--really all children how a person with a burning dream (as well as talent) can persevere and become a legend in his field. It is an inspiring story told simply for children. At the end, th ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: black-history
Not only are the illustrations breathtaking but this is a great story about Muddy Waters and how he came to be and the enormous influence the blues legend had on rock and roll.

When the Beatles first came to the U.S. in 1964, they were asked by American reporters who they would most like to meet. They said Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley. The reporters didn't even know who Muddy Waters was. The Beatles' response: don't you know your own famous people?

This little nugget of information was in the back
Alex (not a dude) Baugh
I was always into jazz more than the blues until I was in college and used to go see Alberta Hunter at The Cookery, a now long gone jazz club on University Place and 8th Street. She often mentioned Muddy Waters, and when I finally heard him, I was hooked. Naturally, I couldn't wait to read this picture book for older readers about Muddy's life and music. This is wonderful introduction to this legendary musician and the illustrations are so perfectly reflective of his music, I can almost hear him ...more
A beautifully illustrated and informative text about the blues musician, Muddy Waters. Details about the fact Muddy was never good at doing what he was told and how trait came to influence American music. . .Muddy knew how he wanted his music to sound and would not compromise when others told
him how to play. One gets the feel for Muddy's growing up years in the Mississippi Delta as well as his migration to Chicago. Interesting that while the text did not say Muddy was from the Clarksdale, Missis
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The perfect storytelling and illustrations. Introduced my daughter to a blues legend then we spent the next morning listening to his music.
May 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
The music of Muddy Waters provided my own introduction to the blues, and I have loved that particular genre ever since.

The Blues are distinguished by a 12-bar sequence played on a unique scale, involving a flatted 3rd or 5th note. These “bent” or “blue” notes are what give the Blues a sound of its own. As the author writes:

“To have the blues was to feel bad.
But to play the blues was to take that low-down,
skunk-funk, deep-stomach hurt
And turn it into something else.”

McKinley Morganfield, called M
In addition to being beautifully illustrated and having stunning word choices, this book does a great job discussing racism - it even introduces the topic of sharecropping - in an accessible way. Amazon says ages 4-8, and I think that's exactly right.
Mrs. Krajewski
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My daughter said, “Mommy, it sounds like the book is made of music.” Couldn’t have said it any better myself! Gorgeous!
Preston Stell
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a fantastic book! I instantly went to Google Play to listen to Muddy Waters right after reading. The art is pretty sweet and his is a great story.
Beautifully written and illustrated.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read "Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters," written by Michael Mahin and illustrated by Evan Turk, as a possible 2018 Caldecott contender. I give this a 5 for text and a 5 for illustrations. I found "Muddy" fabulous on all levels!

Keeping in mind that I am an adult reader, this biographical work on the life of blues guitarist, Muddy Waters was fascinating. I am not sure how the book would appeal to younger readers, however. The book could, however, work with middle and high school stu
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I weren't listening, then I'd stay dumb.
Beautiful, beautiful book about how blues legend Muddy Waters played "not with his fingers, but with his heart." It's a compelling story about his journey as a young man from the Mississippi Delta, where there was nothing for him but back-breaking, sharecropping work, to the South Side of Chicago, where he eventually found his musical path with Leonard Chess of Chess Records, playing the kind of music he wanted to share with the world. A great story of perseverance and hard work; as the author p ...more
Eileen Mccann
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After reading 6 possible winning books, I was convinced that "this book" would be the 2017 Caldecott winner. But then, I looked at the cover of Muddy Waters holding his oversized guitar, surrounded in a field of vibrant color and design. I wanted more. The drawings, the color, the designs on each page are powerful as a whole and in the smallest detail. The pictures, rendered in water color. oil pastel, china marker, printer ink and newspaper collage, are visually enticing. I see music, blues mus ...more
Cindy Hudson
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Blues legend Muddy Waters grew up in the Mississippi Delta, playing music on whatever he found at hand: an old accordion, a piece of wire, a beat-up can. His grandma tried to steer him away from music, saying, “you can’t eat the blues for breakfast.” But Muddy persisted. And when he got tired of earning little money for sharecropping, he moved to Chicago where his skill at playing the blues eventually gained him recognition.

His journey from child to musical trailblazer comes to life in a picture
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 1st-6th grade
Gorgeous, stunning, powerful. Artwork is alive with color and movement. Text flows smoothly and the repetition of "never good at doing what he was told" and "oh, child, long gone. oh, child. sail on" lend a musical refrain. The first two-page spread to almost depict a river of blue flames with Muddy running from the two hands reaching out for him. Love the repeated image of the title page spread of the river flowing past a shack and cotton fields, and last two-page spread of Muddy standing by th ...more
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Michael Mahin has loved music since his grandmother gave him his first piano lesson at the age of five. Like Carlos Santana, he believes that music fills the world with magic and love and feeling and healing. He is the author of Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters and enjoys writing books about people who use their creativity to make the world a better place. He lives in San Diego, Calif ...more