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It’s International Children’s Books Day today (2 April), so we’ve dug into the world of literature crafted by some high-profile musicians and picked our favourites.
From the likes of Springsteen, Marley and Dylan illustrating some of their most well-known tracks, to the wonderful fairytale stories of Madonna, Colin Meloy and more, these make great reading for kids and big-kids alike.
50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) – Playground
New York rapper 50 Cent’s inspiring foray into young fiction tells the story of thirteen-year-old Butterball who lives in a Long Island suburb with his mother, while his dad still lives in New York City. Through a series of sessions with therapist Liz, the reader is taken on a journey of how Butterball became the playground bully. Loosely inspired by Curtis’ own adolescence, this tale is perfect for teenagers.
Bob Dylan – Blowin’ In The Wind
One of the world’s most gifted songwriters, Bob Dylan has crafted his wonderful lyrics into storybooks, providing an innovative way to introduce young ones to maestro. Blowin’ In The Wind is one in a series of books that sees the words of the legend illustrated with adorable detail. Fans should also get their hands on Forever Young, If Dogs Run Free and Man Gave His Name To All The Animals for some added magic.
Bob Marley – Every Little Thing
An adaptation of Bob Marley’s iconic song Three Little Birds, Every Little Thing has been brought to life by his daughter Cedella Marley. Includes the original lyrics and a few additional verses, it follows an enthusiastic young boy who won’t let anything get him down. Throughout the book, the boy is accompanied by a little ginger cat as they go about their day.
Bruce Springsteen – Outlaw Pete
Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame member and New Jersey music legend Bruce Springsteen has achieved many things in his life time, including directing his own concert documentary. But did you know he also has a children’s book? Outlaw Pete is based on a track from Springsteen’s 2009 record Working On A Dream, and follows the mischievous adventures of a bank-robbing baby. Inspired by Brave Cowboy Bill – a story Springsteen grew up loving – Outlaw Pete is just one of many ways the Jersey icon expressed his love for the western.
Colin Meloy – Wildwood
The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy released Wildwood: The Wildwood Chronicles in 2012. The first in a trilogy, it has since been followed by Under Wildwood in 2013 and Wildwood Imperium in 2015. The stories sees Prue McKeel’s ordinary life turned upside down when her baby brother is abducted by crows. As she sets off to rescue him in the world of Wildwood, she enters a realm of trouble, magic and wonder.
Dolly Parton – Coat Of Many Colors
Country megastar Dolly Parton has long been a fan of children’s books. She has even set up her own charity – the Imagination Library – which gifts free books to eligible kids, from birth until the start of school. In Dolly’s words, “you can never get enough books into the hands of enough children”. With that in mind, in 2016, she used her classic song Coat Of Many Colors and turned it into an inspiring story.
Gerard Way – Umbrella Academy
In My Chemical Romance founder and subsequent solo artist Gerard Way’s graphic novel, wealthy inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopts seven children that were born to women who had previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Forming the Umbrella Academy of the title, those seven children each have their individual superpowers. Across various adventures as adults, they aim to save the world. Blending the magic of graphic novels with Way’s darker edge, this is the perfect mix of both worlds.
Gloria Estefan – Noelle The Bulldog
GRAMMY Award-winner Gloria Estefan ventured into the world of children’s books with the tale of Noelle The Bulldog. Illustrated by Michael Garland, the book’s themes tackle being an outsider and searching for a place to belong. Noelle is overjoyed when adopted by a little girl, but her happiness is overshadowed by a fear of rejection. Ultimately, Gloria Estefan wonderfully shows that everyone has their own talent, and a place to be accepted.
Julie Andrews – The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Famed for roles in Mary Poppins and Princess Diaries, Julie Andrews’ second children’s novel tells the whimsical story of the Whangdoodle, a gentle and wise creature, who created a land all-but forgotten by humans for himself and all other extraordinary animals. Yet as Professor Savant and the three Potter children embark on a search for the mystical creatures, they have to get past the sneaky Prock who is doing his utmost to keep them away from his king.
Keith Richards – Gus & Me
In a very personal story, Rolling Stone Keith Richards dives back into his childhood to when his grandfather – Theodore Augustus Dupree (aka Gus) – introduced him to the joy of music. Throughout the book, Keith celebrates everything about his grandfather; a jazz musician who gave Keith his very first guitar. The tale is accompanied by beautiful illustration courtesy of his daughter, Theodora Dupree Richards.
Madonna – The English Roses
Queen of Pop Madonna builds a world inspired by contemporary London life for her The English Roses series. Four young girls, all best of friends, exclude Binah from all their fun activities because they they are jealous of her seemingly perfect life. A fairy godmother then comes along to take the girls on a journey where they learn that maybe Binah’s life isn’t as idealistic as it first seems.
Rhett Miller – No More Poems!
Rhett Miller usually rocks with his bandmates in Old 97’s, but in No More Poems! he utilises his talent for words in poems about a bullying baseball coach, annoying little brothers and more. With 23 pieces in total, No More Poems! is a funny and clever collection that no family household should be without.