The Music in George’s Head

Dazzling, daring, razzmatazz! Perfect Picture Book Friday spotlights the making of a musical masterpiece.

Title: The Music in George’s Head, George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue
Written by: Suzanne Slade
Illustrated by: Stacy InnerstIMG_1402
Calkins Creek, 2016, biography
Suitable for ages: 9-11
Lexile: 680
Themes/topics: music, composers

George heard music all the time. At home. At school Even when he was roller-skating down New York’s busy streets.

Brief synopsis (from
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 create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes, sounds, and one long wail of a clarinet. Includes author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

Activities and Resources:
Teacher’s Guide
• Explore how varied genres of music make you feel: classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz. Create a visual for each type of music that conveys the feeling. Or move to the music to express the feelings you experience.
• What sounds in everyday life are musical to you?

Why I like this book:
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 music.

I’m not the only one who thinks this is an amazing book! The Music in George’s Head has won numerous awards: Junior Library Guild Selection, Booklist Editors’ Top 10 Arts Books for Youth List, Parents’ Choice Gold Award, California Reading Assoc. Eureka! Gold Award, 2017 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books  for Young People, Four Starred Reviews! – Kirkus, Booklist,  School Library Journal & Publishers’ Weekly. 2017 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers (PreK-3rd). 2017 Bank Street College of Educ. Best Books of  the Year (Ages 5-9)

Visit Author Suzanne Slade’s website HERE. 

Visit Illustrator Stacy Innerst HERE.

Visit author Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books for a plethora of picture books listed by title and topic/theme, each with teacher/parent resources.

10 thoughts on “The Music in George’s Head

  1. Interesting that there are PB’s publishing for the 9-11 year old reader. Just finished TINY STITCHES and that is definitely for a more mature PB audience as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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