Thursday, November 3, 2022

Today's read... American Pie: A Fable by Don McLean

 Today's book is just as much for adults as children...and maybe, this should be under a Mommy's and Daddy's Day post instead... but it is a picture book for kids. When I was given this one, the song immediately played in my head for days. My strongest memories of the song had me back in my college years...parties, anyone? I was curious how this would be brought down to a read for kids, since the song does hit with quite a bit of depth.

Ready to find out how it works?

by Don McLean
Backbeat Books
Picture Book
48 pages
ages 4 to 8

A long, long time ago lived a lonely newspaper boy. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of one of the top songs of the twentieth century, Don McLean has written a children's book with Judith A. Proffer that weaves themes from the iconic song with experiences from his early life and, in true "American Pie" form, offers meaningful elements open to interpretation. American Pie is the story of a newspaper delivery boy in the late '50s who discovers the joy of friendship and music, eventually learning that when you recognize what truly makes you happy, you're never really alone. Released in 1971, "American Pie" was named one of the top five songs of the century by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Recording Industry Association of America.



With a wave of nostalgia, a bit of insight on a musician's life, and beautiful illustrations, this picture book opens its pages for children as well as adults.

This book is inspired from both Don McLean's life as well as the ever-popular song, "American Pie". It introduces a boy, who delivers newspapers throughout the neighborhood, day after day. He enjoys his job but, unfortunately, he doesn't have any friends. Instead, he lets his imagination flow and build a wondrous world around him. Until, one day, he receives a letter addressed to him and friendship, of sorts, blooms. 

When I opened this one up, I had no idea what to expect, since I've never seen the song, "American Pie", as really children accessible. But then, this book isn't really about the song. Not completely. It follows a bitter-sweet tale of a boy with a vast imagination, and his longing for friendship, as well as what happens when it ends. The story makes the heart ache but does leave off on an inspiring note, which gives it a nice mix and depth. So, yes, this is a children's book in the traditional sense...just not a light one. And it is also for adults.

Not only does the boy's life incorporate a few aspects from Don McLean's own childhood as he peddles through the neighborhood to deliver newspapers, but it builds in aspects from the song. These are cleverly woven into the gorgeous illustrations...illustrations, which are worth a glance all on their own because they are simply that well done. 

I do find this book hard to review. As a children's picture book, it won't be for all listeners due to the bittersweet story, and I would tend toward slightly older readers, too (6 to 10). It does, however, offer an amazing way to introduce the song if that's the goal. I do see adults enjoying this one quite a bit and a great opportunity for them to use this and the song to connect to the children in their lives. Plus, it is very nostalgic and puts a smile on the face. So, I did enjoy it quite a bit just with a tiny-bit of hesitation as a picture book for the intended age group. Still, it is an amazing book.

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