- Age Range: 5 - 8 years
- Paperback: 32 pages
- Publisher: Walker Childrens (March 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802775780
- ISBN-13: 978-0802775788
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.1 x 10.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,510,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Piano Man Paperback – March 1, 2000
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3?Chocolate adds to her list of books on African and African-American themes with a fictional memoir drawn from her own family history. "My grandfather," begins her narrative, "played piano for the silent movies." He played on Broadway for the Follies and sang and danced in vaudeville. When marriage and family ended his days on the road and silent movies turned into talkies, he became a piano tuner. His greatest joy in his last years was to play the old upright piano bought by his daughter from the theater he once filled with music. Bright red theater curtains on the endpapers set the stage for the series of well-designed, realistic, double-spread paintings in acrylic with pencil cross-hatching, which bring the past to life. Warm, vibrant earth tones enliven the text. But central to the story, and the key to its enjoyment by young readers today, is the narrator's memories of a beloved grandfather, a warm family, and a black community happily entertained by early films and ragtime music.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Ages 5^-8. In this first-person picture book, an African American girl tells the story of her grandfather, who played piano in a silent movie theater, a Broadway theater, a medicine show, and vaudeville. After marrying a vaudeville dancer, he played in movie theaters again until the talkies came along, then tuned pianos for a living. Years later, the piano man's granddaughter loves to turn on a television western with the volume low and listen to him play piano "and hammer out his memories of the old silent picture shows." Velasquez's artwork sweeps the somewhat adult story along, and his subtle characterization of faces gives warmth and individuality to the main characters and often to figures in crowd scenes as well. The jacket art shows the piano man with a disconcertingly modern-looking daughter (confusingly, the narrator's mother), but most of the pictures nicely reflect the various periods of his life. Students assigned to interview their grandparents for family history will find this an appealing starting point. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Debbie Chocolate recounts the memories of her musically talented grandfather, Sherman L. Robinson. All of the events in this wonderful book are based on the experiences of Debbie's grandfather. The reader actually experiences a collage of the life of Sherman L. Robinson from the time he was a very young man until the time he was an old man. Debbie Chocolate knows exactly how much text to include in the story and skillfully conveys the story of her grandfather through the various phases of his life. As I read the book and stared at the pages I felt as though I was sitting in that old time theater where silent movies reflected from the screen and could hear Debbie's grandfather playing that piano to convey the emotions and feelings of the characters in the silent movies. It was fascinating to learn about Mr. Robinson's love for Ragtime music and to find out that Jelly Roll Morton taught him to play two pianos at the same time. The reader experiences the fun and adventure of travelling on the road with the Snake Doctor's Medicine Show where Debbies's grandfather not only played rag but also performed daring feats, pitched snake oil and pulled rabbits out of hats. It was very romantic to see Sherman's fiancee in Vaudville. Great satisfaction is felt when Sherman marries the very pretty vaudville dancer and they go on the road performing in theaters and ballrooms across the country. As with all, Debbie's grandfather goes through all the stages in life and we see him losing his job at the local theater because they don't need piano players anymore because all the movies had sound. Mr. Robinson spends his retirement years tuning pianos. Eventually by the time that the author, Debbie Chocolate, comes along, her grandfather no longer tuned pianos but would sit and tell marvelous stories about his musical career. A very special surprise awaits Mr. Robinson at the very end of this book. You will want to read the book to find out what it was.
This book would make a valuable addition to any school's or home library. All readers will definitely enjoy the story, but African American students will especially like it. It may be necessary to explain certain concepts in the book to school children. For example the book talks about a bowler hat, shirt garters, Follies, ragtime, medicine shows, Vaudeville, cakewalk, and matinees. It is true that the reader can glean some of the meaning of these words from the illustrtations but children may need help understanding these concepts.
A young woman tells about her grandfather, a piano player in theaters up until the "talkies" arrived. We also travel a bit, learning about vaudeville, snake oil, ragtime, and other careers the piano man held.
Vibrant and quite interesting. If your kids like more realistic picture books, instead of fantasy, give it a try.