John’s Secret Dreams [book review]

Doreen Rappaport
Bryan Collier (Illustrator)
John’s Secret Dreams
Picture Book Biography
Hyperion, 2004

Story: A picture book depicting the life and death of John Lennon. Beautiful artwork that incorporates lyrics from the music of John Lennon and the Beatles. It tells of a boy from Liverpool who didn’t really have a mother and aspired to be a musician. The book talks about turbulent times in John’s life and about the legacy he left behind with his music and political views/actions.

Main Character: John Lennon, singer/songwriter/political activist/world icon

Audience: Any fan of the Beatles or the time period, anyone who likes great lyrics.

Comments: I found this book and had to buy it! The pictures are very cool and the subject is one of my favorite singers. I think the picture book format helps the book because it makes it educational but more artistic in a way. Lots of information is packed inside but even young children can understand and enjoy the basic story of not-fitting in and following your dreams.

Discussion Questions:
#1 Talk about the story in its historical context, include the images and lyrics in the discussion. How did society impact John? How did John impact society? What lyrics are politically motivated, which ones come from John’s personal life?
#2 Have students pick lyrics from the book and explain why they are important or expand discussion to includes other bands/songs from the past and how they influence music today.

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