Books

Book Details

  • Title: Muddy: The Story of Blues Legend Muddy Waters
  • Author: Michael Mahin
  • Illustrator: Evan Turk
  • Age Range: 6 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 6
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 5, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481443496
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.3 x 11 inches
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Relevant Subject Areas: American History, African-American History, American Music History, Rock n’ Roll History, Blues History, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta, the Great Migration, creativity, perseverance, diversity, multiculturalism, music, guitar

Resources for Kids, Educators, and Parents

Awesome Coloring Page 1 | Awesome Coloring Page 2

Summary:

Muddy Waters was never good at doing what he was told. When Grandma Della said the blues wouldn’t put food on the table, Muddy didn’t listen. And when record producers told him no one wanted to listen to a country boy playing country blues, Muddy ignored them as well. This tenacious streak carried Muddy from the hardscrabble fields of Mississippi to the smoky juke joints of Chicago and finally to a recording studio where a landmark record was made.

Soon the world fell in love with the tough spirit of Muddy Waters. In blues-infused prose and soulful illustrations, Michael Mahin and award-winning artist Evan Turk tell Muddy’s fascinating and inspiring story of struggle, determination, and hope.

Praise and Achievements for Muddy!

  • Junior Library Guild Selection, Fall 2017
  • “The words and pictures here mix exuberance with melancholy. Mahin’s words have a beat all their own, capturing the lows and highs with poetic verve. Turk’s watercolor, ink, and collage artwork fills pages, exploding with a neon intensity—the equivalent of a dynamic guitar riff . . . Read the book, then get kids the music.” (Booklist, Starred Review, July 2017)
  • “This poetic celebration of Muddy Waters’ musical truth is lifted still higher by Turk’s extraordinary art.” (Kirkus Reviews 7/1/17)
  • “Lyrically told with a lilting cadence by debut author Mahin. . . . Turk’s mixed-media illustrations leap off the page. . . . The soul of the blues sings out through the pages.” (School Library Journal July 2017)
  • “Like Waters’s music after landing in the Windy City, Turk’s artwork is electric—wild strokes of marker and oil pastel vibrate with energy. And Mahin’s equally vivid writing will almost certainly send readers after Waters’s catalogue.” (Publishers Weekly August 7, 2017)
  • “Mahin’s text is engaging, rhythmic, soulful, and written to reflect the blues that influenced Muddy Waters. . . . Turk’s expressionistic mixed-media illustrations, many of them double-page spreads, aptly convey the emotions associated with Muddy Waters’s music.” (The Horn Book September/October 2017)
  • “Turk’s mixed-media and collage artwork roils with waves of darkness and explosive color, even as it models compositional control, and Muddy is always defined with an electric hue that keeps him in sharp focus. . . . Mahin’s lyricism and rolling cadence make the text a readaloud delight.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred Review, September 2017)
  • “The fact of the matter is that every single year I think Turk’s going to get a medal. I thought it with Grandfather Gandhi. I thought it with The Storyteller. Now I’m thinking it with Muddy, but of those three books, Muddy may have the best chance. Turk’s art perfectly brings to life the legendary blues guitarist’s life. I had my resident jazz expert at work vet the piece and he declared it a beauty. Treat yourself by visiting Evan’s blog where he posts the sketches he made of Chicago’s contemporary jazz scene while doing research for this book.” (Betsy Bird, Caldecott Prediction List, Fuse 8/ School Library Journal)

Excerpt:

The clack-a-track, steam-blur of an Illinois Central train rocketed Muddy and his guitar into the bustle and buzz of Chicago’s South Side.

Chicago was plugged in, turned on, and turned up. And so was its music. Records with electrified guitars and jazzy horns were making the blues jump all over town.

Chicago was the city of the ‘Brown Bomber,’ Joe Louis, the heavyweight boxing champion of the world. It was the city of the Chicago Defender, the legendary black newspaper dedicated to fighting racial injustice. And now it was the city of Muddy Waters.

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