The Music in Derrick's Heart by Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert, Colin Bootman
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Holiday House; 1st ed edition (March 2000)
Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 8.9 x 0.4 inches
Uncle Booker T. has promised to teach Derrick to play the harmonica, and the boy spends the summer practicing with the dapper old man, who insists that Derrick "slow down" to let the music come from his heart. The child doesn't really understand what that means, but he listens as the accomplished musician plays hymns to soothe Big Mama, snappy jazz to get Aunt Agnes's feet a-tappin', and a sharp march to help the neighborhood boys keep the beat of their rhythm band. One day, when Uncle Booker T. can't play because of his arthritis, Derrick summons up all that he has learned and he takes the time to allow the "sweet, sweet music" to pour forth from the old harmonica. This tale of an intergenerational friendship, somewhat reminiscent of Karen Ackerman's Song and Dance Man (Knopf, 1988), is an appealing look at the sense of community the music fosters throughout this black neighborhood. The straightforward text conveys a mood of comfortable idleness, and the characters are simple, down-to-earth people who exude a real fondness for one another. Bootman's realistic acrylic paintings give suitable suggestions of a small town with its big front porches and ordinary homes; the strength of the illustrations, however, lies in the artist's ability to show the textures of the characters' faces. A pleasant read-aloud that will radiate "sweet, sweet music" to its listeners' ears.
Hardcover. Ex-lib. edition in excellent, tight and very clean condition.