Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.

Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio


Image from

Golio, G., & Steptoe, J. (ill.) (2012). Jimi: Sounds like a rainbow: a story of the young Jimi Hendrix. Boston: Clarion Books. ISBN: 9780618852796

Annotation: Growing up in Seattle, Jimmy Hendrix saw music and colors all around him, and when he received his first guitar, he learned how to combine the two into a new experience. Forty years after his death, his music is still influential in the lives of many.

Reaction: I am pretty familiar with Jimi Hendrix’s music, though not what I would necessarily consider a fan (in the “fanatical” sense of the word), but no one can deny the effect his music has on it’s listeners. He uses his guitar in ways that very few people today are able to, and he pulls huge emotion from the strings. I LOVE that people are writing picture books about artists like him, and I will definitely be on the lookout for books about other influential, modern musicians.

This is a fascinating look at his early life and the circumstances that lead him to becoming one of the greatest guitarists in the world. I immediately handed it to my Feller because he’s a lover of Jimi’s music and would enjoy reading such a short biography. Golio presents a lot of information about Hendrix that the casual fan, like myself, wouldn’t know and gives a quick, easy to digest description of where he came from.

The mixed media illustrations are eclectic and cluttered, in the best possible way, creating almost abstract scenes from Hendrix’s life. I like the way Steptoe distinguishes the people from the background on what appears to be light, thin pieces of wood or cardboard. I love the way the book changed orientation to fit the lake scene and its crazy array of colors. Steptoe uses lots of bold colors and patterns to illustrate Hendrix’s dream of painting with sound, and it fits with the sound Jimi’s music. I also enjoy the way the text sometimes waves across the page like music floating on the air.

I think it would be fun to read this book to a class of 4th-6th graders as part of a music segment with Hendrix music playing in the background. The class could discuss his music and history, and since the author includes resources about alcohol and substance abuse, also talk about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

Media Used: Mixed media

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


2 thoughts on “Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

  1. AMY–
    Thanks for the enthusiastic review, and since you plan to “definitely be on the lookout for books about other influential, modern musicians,” please check out my other two kid’s books: “When Bob Met Woody – The Story of the Young Bob Dylan” (Little, Brown), and my newest, “Spirit Seeker – John Coltrane’s Musical Journey” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), debuting on October 23rd. And keep writing those reviews!

    Gary Golio


    • Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you enjoyed the review; I really did enjoy the book, and I will check out your other two (someday when I have more time and fewer books to read than I do now, SIGH).


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