Young and Fabulous in Liverpool

FabFourFriends jkt des3 hiresFab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles
By Susanna Reich
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
(Christy Ottaviano Books, Henry Holt & Co., 2015, New York, $17.99)

The Beatles remain one of the most popular and enduring bands of all time, but the group’s success once appeared unlikely. All four members hailed from humble beginnings in Liverpool, England, where their shared love of music helped them overcome grief and loss. John Lennon lost his mother as a teenager, and Ringo Starr spent three years in the hospital.) At first, no London producer would even listen to the four Liverpudlians play. Then one did – and Beatlemania soon followed.

In Fab Four Friends, Susanna Reich and illustrator Adam Gustavson tell the Beatles’ stories. Both a collective biography and an account of the band’s origins, the book contains sections devoted to each musician. Reich celebrates the band’s wit and high spirits, incorporating their quips and various Britishisms into her narrative. Gustavson’s oil paintings bring the musicans’ world to life, evoking both domestic life in post World War II England and the excitement of performing – and hearing – rock n ‘roll in crowded clubs.

Although it is a picture book, Fab Four Friends’ long and complex narrative is more suited to middle-graders than the youngest readers and listeners. Kids already familiar with the Beatles will enjoy learning more about the band. Parents and educators, on the other hand, will be only too happy to share their enthusiasm for the Fab Four with a new generation of fans.

-Dorothy A. Dahm


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