Book Review: I and I: Bob Marley
I and I: Bob Marley
by Tony Medina; illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson
Lee & Low, 2009
ISBN 13: 978-1-60060-257-3
$19.95 U.S / $21.29 Cdn. (hardcover)
Cybils MG/YA Non-fiction Nominee
Apart from a few lyrics to “One Love”, I knew next to nothing about Jamaican reggae icon Bob Marley before reading this book. I and I: Bob Marley introduced me to this legendary individual in an imaginative and highly appealing way.
I and I: Bob Marley is a picture-book biography written in free verse. As I read through the seventeen poems chronicling Marley’s birth, childhood, and and his subsequent rise into a successful musician and spiritual leader, phrases and images from Marley’s songs jumped out at me. Perhaps I was more familiar with his work than I’d thought? Medina’s verse skillfully and beautifully taps into the lasting legacy of Marley’s life and music and reflects the indelible mark he left on the world.
Admittedly, the verse may be challenging for some readers. As The LibrariYAn pointed out in her review, the text requires a a certain degree of artistic appreciation and maturity. That being said, I’m not sure a straight text treatment would have been as effective.
For those seeking more standard biographical facts, I and I concludes with an extensive Author’s Notes section, which fills in the details and provides context for each poem.
While I thoroughly enjoyed Medina’s soulful, song-like verse and the story it weaves, the accompanying illustrations are by far my favourite part of this book. They are wonderfully vibrant, colourful, and expressive.