In addition to all of the middle grades books I bought at the book fair on Friday, I also picked up Connie Schofield-Morrison’s (2014) I Got the Rhythm (Scholastic), a children’s picture book that tells the story of how a little girl finds the beat in the objects and people around her.
Goodreads Reviews for I Got the Rhythm
Before I move on, I must say that this review is dedicated to this kid at my college who walked around campus every day with a boombox like the one on the front cover here. He clearly had the rhythm that I never had.
But back to the review. A fun read-aloud, I Got the Rhythm stars an African American girl who tells the story of how she composes a rhythm by being aware of her community’s sounds, smells, and sights. She listens carefully to a drummer’s beats and a butterfly’s wings. Near the end of the book, she and her friends are dancing to her rhythm in a wonderfully beautiful image. And a host of community members cheer her on as she performs a breakdancing solo with a retro boombox in the background.
I really like the book’s first-person narration. Whereas I sort of wanted the narrator to have a name, I think more readers will be able to relate to her story because she is not named. I also absolutely love Frank Harrison’s oversized, colorful illustrations. They add great energy and help readers connect with the main character’s musical energy.
I am always telling my children’s literature students to make sure their students can see themselves in books. What I like about I Got the Rhythm is that people from various cultural backgrounds are featured in the book. Readers gain insight into the female character’s culture through her dancing. And, finally, the book rejects the traditional ballerina image, an aspect many readers will find empowering.
Let me know what you think of I Got the Rhythm in the comments below!