Reviews for John's Secret Dreams : The Life Of John Lennon


Booklist Reviews 2004 October #2
Gr. 4-8. The creators of Martin's Big Words (2001) use free-verse text and pictures that tumble across the pages to introduce Lennon to a new generation. As a child virtually abandoned by his parents, John found comfort in writing and drawing. Then rock and roll shook up his life, and a meeting with Paul McCartney sent it in a new direction. Lennon's life was a panorama of talent, inspiration, dreams, and despair, and making it manageable for young readers is a mighty task. In some respects Rappaport and Collier succeed. The bold collage and watercolor artwork will draw curious eyes, and the staccato text and song lyrics provide a solid biographical framework. But as a whole, the book is overwhelming. Kids familiar with the music are the best audience, of course. Those who have heard "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," for instance, will enjoy peering at the accompanying spread showing John surrounded by tangerine trees, whose fruit is replicated on his clothes (though here, the overriding color, maroon, doesn't fit the mood). Some spreads, like the one showing legs and feet crossing Abbey Road, will resonate only with kids who understand the reference. This will work best with Lennon's music playing in the background; kids will need that visceral connection to appreciate the textual and visual rhythms the book is trying to evoke. ((Reviewed October 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Spring
This ambitious picture book reveals plenty of research and an affinity for the subject. The text describes pivotal moments in Lennon's life, interspersing lines from his songs in larger colored type. Collier's collage art is full of motion, with some psychedelic sixties colors added to the predominant brown. Appended with a list of important dates, a selected discography, and selected research sources. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2004 #5
Like Martin's Big Words (rev. 1/02) by the same duo, this ambitious picture book reveals plenty of research and an affinity for the subject. Formatted in brief lines, the text describes pivotal moments in Lennon's life, interspersing lines from his songs in larger colored type. Collier's collage art has more motion this time, with busier backgrounds, and he adds some psychedelic sixties colors to the predominant brown. But the most distinguishing graphic feature is a recurring motif of floating circles: when the Beatles achieve their first success, the circles become brightly labeled black LPs; when John feels suffocated by fame and experiments with drugs, they become drifting holes and disks containing fragments of his face. Song lyrics placed on top of Collier's illustrations sometimes add to the art's effect and sometimes confuse and dilute the power of his images. Likewise, the lyrics interspersed between the lines of Rappaport's narrative usually add to the text's effectiveness, but some halt the read-aloud flow and cause confusion, particularly when they run the risk of blending into the background color. For maximum enjoyment, put on a Beatles album, curl up with the book, and just Let It Be. Appended with a list of important dates, a selected discography, and selected research sources. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2004 #2
In their latest collaboration, Rappaport and Collier combine a spare, poetic text and watercolor-and-collage illustrations to introduce readers to John Lennon and as varied references as Lewis Carroll, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, the war in Vietnam, and the civil-rights movement. The bright art bursts forth as pages are turned, and the busyness of the illustrations matches the frenetic tours of the Beatles. However, the circle motif in the illustrations seems overdone, creating clutter and ambiguity, while the prose style seems wrong for conveying the weighty ideas of the text. It's not clear, for example, what young readers will make of unexplained references to John's taking drugs, staging a "bed-in" for peace, divorcing his wife to marry Yoko Ono, and studying meditation to find inner peace. A lively, if unusual, take on the pop-culture icon, whose music is as fresh today as it was then. (author's note, illustrator's note, important dates, discography, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. All ages) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Library Media Connection Reviews 2005 March
Through a combination of narrative, artwork, and original lyrics, this unique volume depicts the life and works of John Lennon. Lennon's story is told in simple prose with accompanying related lyrics from several of his songs. The illustrations add an imaginative perspective on Lennon's life as Collier uses circles to represent many elements and emotions. The subject matter, lyrics, and illustrations might be lost on younger readers. Older audiences already familiar with Lennon and the Beatles will appreciate it the most. Chronology. Discography. Additional Selection. Dr. Marilyn Heath, Media Specialist, Greer (South Carolina) Middle School © 2005 Linworth Publishing, Inc.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2004 December
Gr 5-8-Using a combination of simple prose, song lyrics, and illustration, this heartfelt picture-book biography traces Lennon's life from his childhood to his death. Striking in both its simplicity and complexity, it captures this enigmatic singer, artist, songwriter, and folk hero in a way that will move and fascinate those too young to remember the man but are surrounded by his music and myth. Collier's remarkable illustrations begin on the cover from which Lennon's emotionless face stares out from behind his trademark granny glasses. Inside the book, soft pastel circles appear everywhere. On some spreads, they are on the sidebars on which the text rests, accompanying an illustration. On others, they overtake the pages-sometimes as simple circles and other times incorporating themselves into the collage artwork, becoming records, or orange slices, or flashbulbs. Alternatively they trace over the illustrations, giving them a dreamlike appearance and reinforcing and celebrating Lennon's messages as his hopes for the world. Rappaport's text portrays him as a creative and tortured soul, referring only casually to his more controversial actions. His death is described simply as "murder" with no further details. His wishes for world peace and tolerance are reflected in most of the lyrics selected. This beautiful and stirring tribute will surely send readers to bookshelves and the music stores to learn more about the man.-Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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