This book tells the story of the most famous rock band ever and explains to young readers the extraordinary impact the music of the Beatles had nationally and internationally from the early 1960s. Hugely successful song writers and performers in the UK and the rest of the world, John, Paul, George and Ringo, were front page news week after week. Children will find that their grandparents will remember this!
These author illustrators know how to bring an immediacy to the story so that children growing up in the 21st century can connect with all that happened. They do this with carefully designed double spreads each with a block of written information, information boxes and large illustrations often with telling speech bubbles. Some of these bring alive the lifestyle of ordinary people at the time: the clothes they wore, the transport they used – the palette even reflects the greens and blues of the formica surfaces which were so common in people’s homes at the time. Above all, they take us into the clubs and venues that were so much part of the band members’ lives.
The book begins by creating life in Liverpool after the Second World War and homes in on a particular baby who was ‘twisting and shouting in his pram’. It was John Lennon who would one day ‘rock the world’. Manning and Granstrom often recognise in their books that the childhood of famous people is always of great interest to young readers. Here they explain that John’s Aunty Mimi who looked after him so devotedly did not like him being in a gang and fighting. But they also mention that he was a great reader – Just William, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland and the limericks of Edward Lear were all amongst his favourites. It is this level of detail which fascinates. We learn about Paul’s sad loss of his mother while he was still a school boy and about how he met George Harrison on the school bus. A huge amount of information is imparted with great skill – how the four musicians met, how they made their mark during their time with the band in Hamburg where Ringo joined the group , their success at The Cavern back in Liverpool and the role of their manager , Brian Epstein in their blossoming careers. He arranged their tours in the USA and signed a movie contract for their first film ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ released in 1964. The cheeky humour of the members of the band is shown though the comments in the speech bubbles which pepper the scenes in concert halls. Of course there is a less happy side to fame and fortune and the book notes the exhausting effects of ‘non-stop touring, recording and film work’. A three month break produced two of their most loved songs : ‘Yellow Submarine’ that was ‘chanted in school playgrounds’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby’, a heart rending song about loneliness. Later John, Paul, George and Ringo begin to lead separate lives and to become solo artists. The book ends with four helpful updates of the fortunes of each member of the group. In short – this biography of an iconic band is a splendid achievement and young readers will thoroughly enjoy it.