A Joyful Noise

J9780763658564ubilee!: One Man’s Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace
By Alicia Potter
Illustrated by Matt Tavares
(Candlewick Press, 2014, Somerville, Massachusetts, $16.99)

In 1869, against much public skepticism, bandleader Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore gave a concert in Boston. But this wasn’t a typical concert: it involved a chorus of twenty thousand children, among other choruses, thousands of musicians, forty bells, twelve cannons, and a giant pipe organ built especially for the occasion. Gilmore wanted to commemorate the end of the Civil War and the nation’s newfound peace with a large, loud musical extravaganza.

In Jubilee!, Alicia Potter and illustrator Matt Tavares celebrate a little-known event in American musical history and the extraordinary bandleader who organized it. Potter’s narrative transports readers from Gilmore’s boyhood in Ireland, where he fell in love with music, to the battlefields of the Civil War. There, as a bandleader and stretcher-bearer, he saw firsthand how music could lift people’s spirits. The picture-book biography is, in many ways, a celebration of sound: musical words, such as “toot” and “la-la-laaa” float over Tavares’ depictions of musicians and singers. And the book also rejoices in the music of everyday life: in one remarkable spread, readers see Patrick in the middle of a crowded city street, reveling in his plans for the jubilee and the sounds that surround him. A cat “meows” from a window, horses “clomp – clomp,” and a streetcar “screeches” and “dings” overhead.

Today, multi-day music festivals are commonplace. Jubilee! reminds readers this was not always so even as it rejoices in music’s ability to bring people together.

-Dorothy A. Dahm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s