Ordinary Days: The Seeds, Sound, and City That Grew Prince Rogers Nelson

­Roaring Brook. Oct. 2023. 32p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250797032.
PreS-Gr 3–The formula for biographies aimed at children can feel stale after a while: a person is born, overcomes hardship, and succeeds. This is a fresh take, expertly marrying pictures and text to the spirit of legendary musician Prince. The cresting wave of a story details a quiet boy rising through experiences, exploding in a performance full of future potential, before gently receding to show the boy gathering seeds for future beauty. Illustrations fill in narrative gaps. Details of Prince’s life are told through swirling purple-tinged pictures. This frees up the text to take on a more lyrical slant. The words focus on the birth of sound, rhythmically echoing Prince’s music. It’s an incredible showcase found in “shouts and silence, slamming doors; whispering lilacs, basement floors.” This dabbles in themes of overcoming difficulties and hard work, but cleverly twists them to value quiet curiosity and observation. Beauty is not in the flash of genius. It’s in the “ordinary day,” of holding those glories close until they become extraordinary.
VERDICT This is a bold biography, finding inspiration from the subject and universalizing Prince’s creativity through a gentle approach. It’s perfect for elementary schools, especially as applied to music and art.

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