Friday, March 16, 2018

Fact Friday and Review: When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri

When Paul Met Artie: the story of Simon & Garfunkel by G. Neri. Illustrated by David Litchfield. 48 p. Candlewick Press, March 20, 2018. 9780763681746. (Review from finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

There wasn't a lot of music in my house while I was growing up. First, there wasn't money for records and, with six kids making the noise of, well, six kids, the last thing my mom wanted was radio adding to the din. Actually, I'm not sure we owned one. My dad commuted into the city by bus and was a news hound so if we were in the car with him driving and the radio was on, it was tuned to news. All this made his coming home one night with a couple of albums by these two young dudes named Simon & Garfunkel notable to my eight-year-old self. Some friends of his had recommended them and he liked the songs well enough to buy some albums, dust off the record player and play and play and play them. So I ended up loving them. They had disbanded by the time I was old enough to go to concerts but I went to their reunion concert in Central Park. The very concert that opens this lovely biography.

When I featured this book on a Waiting on Wednesday morning announcement, my students were, "Simon and who?" And so, this book comes at a perfect time to introduce young music aficionados to these legends. They don't know that they know some of the duo's songs thanks to movies like Forrest Gump, Transformers, Watchmen, and The Muppet Movie, to name a few.

Old Friends is the first poem. In September of 1981, the duo reunited for a concert in New York's Central Park. Neri then travels back in time thirty years to the Queens neighborhood where the boys grew up. This poem is entitled, My Little Town. (I will admit to quietly singing and laughing that I remembered most of the words.)The free verse flows and is easy to follow. Each poem/ illustration is a double-page spread. The accompanying illustrations are just gorgeous. I was so surprised to learn that they were done digitally. They are rich in color and detail and have a folk art feel. The little details like reel-to-reel tape recorders and televisions in a cabinet may need some explaining to iPod toting, flat-screen viewing young readers.

This would make a great addition to any public, school or classroom library. I am so excited to be able to add it to my sixth grade picture book biography unit! Not only does it have terrific back-matter, which I instruct them to pay attention to, the unique free verse is very accessible. My creative students also have plenty of music and video sources to explore and incorporate into their final project, which is a podcast. Put the song titles together for a playlist to cue up on whatever you use for tunes and the stage is set to settle in and enjoy. Don't miss this!

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