Monday, March 1, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Shake, Rattle & Turn That Noise Down!

Shake, Rattle, & Turn That Noise Down! How Elvis Shook Up Music, Me and Mom. by Mark Alan Stamaty. Random House. 40 pages.

The day I turned eight, in 1955, my parents gave me a really cool birthday present. It might not seem so great today because the world has changed so much.

This is a very personal story, a personal account, of how Elvis changed the life of this author. On his eighth birthday, Mark Alan Stamaty received an awesome gift--a radio of his very own. With this radio, Stamaty discovered rock 'n' roll music; he discovered Elvis Presley. This new discovery of his was his parents' worst nightmare--especially his mother. It was so loud, so different, so wild, so out of control. She hated it; he loved it. He wanted to buy all of Elvis' records and, well, she didn't want him to have any....until "Love and Tender" came along!

The book is written in a rather unique way. In comic book style. So it's a graphic-novel-memoir in a way. Who is it for? I've been asking that question for weeks ever since I first read this one. I don't think it's for young children. I do think older children could appreciate this one though. The graphic novel format might help a bit. But in a way I can't help thinking this one is more about nostalgia, more about reaching out to adult readers. How interested are young children in Elvis? in learning about how one person's life was "changed" by the music they heard on the radio? I'm not saying the book is irrelevant. I think it is a timeless story in a way. Of how one generation can have trouble "understanding" the next. Of how music can separate households! Of how important music is in our lives, of how it really does impact us in a lasting way. You don't have to be an "Elvis" fan to get that.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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