I and I
"Bob Marley, renowned musician, poet, and advocate, made lasting and invaluable contributions to society. His songwriting and musical performances, with their messages of equality and hope, contributed to the rapid spread of reggae music around the world and earned him numerous high-profile awards. His political and ethical views, deeply intertwined in his music, strengthened his international appeal and also turned him into one of Jamaica's leading advocates for social justice.
This outstanding collection of original poems and bold, expressive artwork pays tribute to Bob Marley and introduces younger readers to his early years and his subsequent growth into a successful musician and spiritual leader. Thoroughly ingrained in the text and illustrations are important economic themes related to extreme poverty, inequality between blacks and whites, and the various forces - including talent, mentorship, and entrepreneurial zeal - that can nurture professional development. It is this combination of informative content with dramatic story -telling media that makes I and I such a potent vehicle for teaching the next generation about an influential artist and social leader who spread his message of peace in a truly innovative way."
- Rutgers University
Sun in shinin, weather is sweet.
"It's surprising, given Bob Marley's international fame and accessible, peace-promoting music, that there are so few books about his life available for youth. Medina, whose children's books include Love to Langston (2002), helps fill the void with this glowing, substantive, picture-book biography in verse. Following the reggae legend from birth to death, the mostly chronological poems reveal a full portrait of the musician, moving from personal details to wider themes. In one poem, Marley's words about his father encompass slavery, his biracial heritage, and the African Diaspora: "Papa is a white man so I've been told / My face a map of Africa in Europe's hold." In another, he speaks about both his love for music and the social justice he hopes to inspire: "We don't want to / Land in jail / All we want to do is wail / Be the voice of the voiceless / Bring some happiness and / Consciousness to the down-pressed." In the words and rhythms of Jamaican patois, Medina's lyrical, direct lines make the most sense when read in tandem with the extensive appended notes, which explain the many specific references to Jamaican history, Rastafarianism, and Marley's life events. Like the words, Watson's beautifully expressive acrylic paintings evoke a strong sense of Marley's remarkable life and his Caribbean homeland. A short bibliography of adult titles rounds out this rare, soulful tribute."
- ALA Booklist **STARRED REVIEW
Stir it up
"I and I is a visual feast, a collection of poems in Bob Marley's own voice, geared toward children... The paintings by the gifted artist Jesse Joshua Watson are compelling full page (and more) brightly colored glimpses of Bob's trod. Watson has Bob's image down cold, a fine accomplishment in a world where many caricatures of the reggae legend fail to capture him properly. His imaginings of the light "red boy" as a child seem accurate, despite the fact that no known images from Bob's childhood have ever surfaced."
- Roger Steffans, for The Beat Magazine
This lyrical picture-book biography of the reggae icon tells his story in verse, from humble beginnings in a small Jamaican village to his glory days as an influential musician. Told in first person (the "I and I" can mean "we"), 17 poems chronologically plot Marley's life path - combined, the poems (and vibrant acrylics) paint a vivid picture of the poverty and turmoil but also the love, faith and island beauty from which Marley arose. "At Fourteen" describes his entree into the music scene with Peter Tosh, Joe Higgs and others, while "Island Song" is a rebuke of Jamaican oppression. "Yell-ow green black and red/ I and I a natty dread/ African Arawak Taino/ I am from/ Slave ship mountains/ And Caribbean rum." While readers may not understand all the verses and terms, Medina's (Love to Langston) thorough endnotes will answer questions, e.g., what the term Babylon means. Watson's (Chess Rumble) majestic art powerfully evokes the people and places that had the strongest influence on Marley, as well as the power he himself would wield. Ages 8-12. (May)
- Publisher's Weekly
Get up, Stand up
"In Love to Langston, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2002), Medina paid homage to the Harlem poet Langston Hughes. His latest biography-in-verse celebrates another powerful master of words: Bob Marley. Early poems show Marley growing up on the Jamaican "farm of Nine Miles dust," struggling to understand his mixed heritage and absent father. Then, in "My Papa Sends for Me," a scared little boy of six boards a bus in the hopes of a better future, all the while crying "a hurricane of pain." Stories unfold in 17 individual poems as Marley learns the power of music, falls in love and ultimately shares his redemption songs with the world. Biographical elements sometimes stall the pace, but most verses scan smoothly in a relaxed, reggae style. Watson's light-soaked strokes of reds, greens and yellows saturate the pages with warmth and vitality. The irrefutable kind of reggae bursts forth with twinkling eyes and "dreads / a twirl." From love to politics to peace, Marley's music stirs the soul - as does this passionate collaboration. Detailed endnotes provide background, poem by poem."