The New York Times Book Review
Golio's portrayal travels into the depths of Coltrane's addiction, and onward to his spiritual reawakening. Gutierrez's wildly kinetic and occasionally fantastical paintings are appropriately heartfelt and groovy.
The dizzying heights and lowest moments of John Coltrane's life are portrayed with energy and care by Golio and Gutierrez, both of whom have experience translating the lives of musicians into picture books (Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow, for Golio, and When I Get Older: The Story Behind "Wavin' Flag," for Gutierrez). The prominence of religion in Coltrane's life is evident throughout, from his early years living with his reverend grandfather to his embrace of world religions after recovering from drug addiction as an adult. "If music could make people laugh, dance, and sing... it could open their hearts and minds and bring them closer to God," writes Golio. Gutierrez works in acrylic and other media, creating sweeping, layered compositions that embody the lonely sadness of the blues, burst with colors and swirls evocative of bebop, and reflect the search for transcendence particular to hymns. Twin afterwords (one discusses Coltrane, the other the history of musicians and drug and alcohol abuse) and an artist's note close out this edifying story of a jazz legend. Ages 9–12. Agent: Edward Necarsulmer IV, McIntosh & Otis. (Oct.)