7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #356: Featuring Theodore Taylor III

h1 November 10th, 2013 by jules

“DJ Kool Herc noticed that dancers danced crazy hard during the breaks in the song when the lyrics ended and the music bumped and thumped. Herc knew that’s what dancers wanted so he plugged in two turntables instead of one. He put the same record on both turntables. He set it up so that when once record ended its break, he could flip over to the other turntable and play it again. Doing this over and over, he made a ten-second break last for ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes or more.”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Today I’ve got the artwork of illustrator Theodore Taylor III. Taylor is an artist, designer, and photographer, who lives in Washington, D.C., and this is his picture book debut. It’s Laban Carrick Hill’s biography of Clive Campbell, When the Beat Was Born (Roaring Brook, August 2013). Campbell was also known as DJ Kool Herc and is the DJ (born in Jamaica but raised in the Bronx) considered the creator of hip hop.

Hill opens the biography with Clive as a young, music-loving child, dancing around the house to vinyl records. His childhood hero was a DJ, named King George, who threw large neighborhood house parties. Though Clive—who desperately wanted to be a DJ—was too young to attend, he’d watch King George set up for the parties. (“Clive had never seen so many records.”)

When he moved to the Bronx with his mother, it was a difficult adjustment but eventually he discovered strength in sports, where he earned his nickname, “Herc” (short for “Hercules”), adding “Kool” to make it “just right.” And now he was old enough to attend house parties, just like the ones of his childhood. He and his sister starting throwing their own parties, where Kool Herc became DJ Kool Herc. It’s here where he also began plugging in two turntables, instead of just one, and putting the same record on both, extending the breaks between songs.

“But Clive did find one thing besides music that made him feel like he belonged: sports. He ran track and lifted weights. He played basketball at the neighborhood playground. Soon little Clive was no longer little. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)

Hill emphasizes how, once Herc took his DJing to the streets of the Bronx, camaraderie ruled. “Even street gangs wanted to dance, not fight.” It’s here that break dancing was born (or “dancing the breaks”). Later, Herc invited friends to rap; his crew of MCs (Masters of Ceremonies) were called The Herculoids, and soon “kids from all over New York City came to see DJ Kool Herc who threw the biggest and baddest parties on Sedgwick Avenue.”

In a closing Author’s Note, Hill talks about how he became interested in this topic (by way of selling laundry detergent, of all things) and his own captivation with the music and dancing of the East Village, Tribeca, and South Bronx in the late ’70s.

“Herc gathered a crew of friends to rap behind his DJing. He invited Coke La Rock,
a Jamaican friend, to rap. He called him his Master of Ceremonies or MC. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)

Booklist praises Taylor’s “freewheeling artwork,” calling this biography a “treat from an underrepresented corner of music history.” As you can see here, Taylor puts to use lots of cool colors, and he captures the booming rhythms and energy of the hip hop scene of this time. Here’s one more spread.

“Herc didn’t just rock the block. He put the HIP HIP HOP, HIPPITY HOP
into the world’s heartbeat.”

(Click to enlarge spread)

WHEN THE BEAT WAS BORN: DJ KOOL HERC AND THE CREATION OF HIP HOP. Copyright © 2013 by Laban Carrick Hill. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Theodore Taylor III. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Roaring Brook Press, New York.

* * * * * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) How much do I love this piece from Sam Phillips in the New York Times about the-visual-arts-as-inspiration? SO SO SO MUCH.

2) I volunteered in a friend’s school library the other day, and it was nice to be back in a school library, if only briefly.

3) This week my daughters and I read the classic Great Gilly Hopkins together, and it was wonderful. It was a re-read for me, but this excellent novel was all new to them. It was intriguing, their responses to this living, breathing character.

4) Tomorrow night Laura Marling plays in Nashville, and I’m very excited about this show.

5) I really love Shakey Grave’s latest CD, Roll the Bones, and this performance from it. (I wish I knew how to embed that.)

6) Really good sushi. Always sushi.

7) I’m visiting Picture Book Month today to talk about why I like picture books. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

19 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #356: Featuring Theodore Taylor III”

  1. You almost feel like dancing from the artwork alone. Thanks for giving us a peek at this title, Jules.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say at PBM today.

    My kicks:
    1. After working in snow, rain and howling winds for several days, I nearly have the final mowing and raking done in the yard.
    2. Ferry rides across the lake
    3. Starting the Mock Caldecott unit
    4. Picture books
    5. Friends
    6. Wrapping in throws taken out of the warm dryer
    7. Walking and being with Xena

    Have a wonderful week everyone.

  2. Our weekends are finally starting to slow down… I am celebrating with time on the couch and a long overdue visit to 7 Imp!

    1. Weekends that are slowing down.
    2. Time at my mother’s this week.
    3. Bright yellow leaves against blue skies.
    4. Chicken pot pie.
    5. Warm sweaters.
    6. Fluffy dogs
    7. Everything that Jules said at Picture Book Month 🙂

    Hope everyone is well! I have missed you guys. I think babies have been born and books have been written since I was last here!

  3. Margie: So glad Xena is better, and mock Caldecott!! Will you keep us updated on what the kiddos love?

    Stacey, you made me snort-laugh. Yes, we did have a baby born, Emmaco’s. BEAUTIFUL BABY. … I understand when people wander off. I never want blogs to get in the way of people’s real lives. I always say that, if I ever say something like, “no, I can’t go out in this beautiful weather with my family today, ’cause I have a post to do,” that someone should give me an intervention. Never ever should that happen. (Guess being a night owl is how my posts even ever happen. I’m like THIS with midnight.) … Anyway. Congrats on slow weekends. I’m having one of those, but then I feel like it’ll pick up soon here with the holidays approaching.

  4. I want to dance, dance, dance to Taylor’s art. It’s jammin’.
    Margie, so glad the Xena girl is better. And snow…I hope we get some this year on the valley floor. Missed it last year.
    Stacey, welcome back. Love fall leaves in the blue sky.
    My kicks:
    1. Grandgirls are here from Medford, Or.
    2. Going to Slappy Cakes with said Grandgirls.
    3. My writing group met last week.
    4.Do you know that in the past, libraries often send library books to the bindery when covers were trashed but the insides were still good. They came back with plai hard covers. Ugly can’t tell covers. Well, I had a first grader in search of “secret books” to check out so she could discover what’s inside.
    5. Book fair.
    6. Parent’s generosity.
    7. New flannel sheets.
    Have a great week.

  5. Thanks so much for sharing Theodore Taylor III’s illustrations for this cool looking biography. I love the color schemes and graphic novel vibe.

    Jules- Laura Marling will be great! Have fun. I liked your post about picture books. You are indeed a champion of picture books, heavyweight.
    Margie- I just did that warm throw out of the dryer thing yesterday. Mmm cozy.
    Hello Stacey! Welcome back.

    1. Veterans
    2. Teacher conferences where I get embarrassed about how much they like my kid.
    3. My sister is doing well with her treatments.
    4. pumpkin bread
    5. Book Club
    6. My daughter’s first middle school dance. She had a blast.
    7. My biggest kick this week is a decision I made to go to the Illustration Conference in Portland, OR next summer. I’m selling some art stuff to help fund the trip. Here’s the link: http://moiraswiatkowski.com/2013/11/07/there-and-back-again/
    I’m kind of nervous about the whole thing but that’s just another reason to want to do it.
    Plus, Jone and I could meet for donuts.

    Have a fabulous week all.

  6. Jules, It’s a musical week all around, it seems–excellent! I have never read Great Gilly Hopkins. Clearly, I must. I also must find a copy of When the Beat Was Born.

    Margie, I’d be interested to hear the results of that Mock Caldecott, too.

    My kicks:
    1. This week, I made Brown Butter Maple Roasted Pears, and they were really, really good.
    2. I also baked an apple cake, which I had a slice of for breakfast this very morning.
    3. I went to hear the orchestra last night, and it was a particularly fine concert.
    4. I finished Stephen King’s new novel, Doctor Sleep, which I really enjoyed.
    5. We had our first flakes of snow on Friday.
    6. I am enjoying the flip side of cold weather: knitted blankets, quilts, warm beverages, and quality time with my cats.
    7. I’ve started some reading to start getting ready for my upcoming Caldecott work. I am still so crazy-excited about that.

  7. Kicks:

    1. My brother JP got one bronze medal, one silver medal, and one gold medal at the World Poomsae Championships.


  8. Such wonderful artwork– we all know that I like saturated colors. And the contrast. Awesome! 🙂

    I think I commented to you already on facebook, but I adore TGGH. I remember what a huge impact it made on me when I read it in middle school (when it was published…I’m old!)

    Margie, I love hearing about mock Caldecotts. Keep us updated!
    Stacey, I’m with you on being absent. We keep traveling on weekends… in other news, I had chicken pot pie for breakfast. 🙂
    Jone, I LOVE flannel sheets. Hmm…maybe a trip to the linen closet is in order!
    Moira, yay for your conference and for your kick ass sister!
    Adrienne, I want to read Doctor Sleep. Glad to hear you liked it.

  9. My Kicks:

    1) participating in the most amazing Board of Education meeting where 100s of teachers stood up for what they believe and spoke out against the changes that are being made. So proud to be a part!
    2) Seeing the end in sight to a very difficult semester – 1 more month!!
    3) a fun downtown photo session with my kids & me. Can’t wait to see the proofs.
    4) a productive parent conference with my 6th grader’s teachers. At least they know that I’m not a slacker like he is!
    5) Fall leaves against blue skies
    6) tights and boots
    7) and the BIGGEST kick. My husband accepted a new job on Friday! He’s been dreadfully unhappy, and the new job means no weekends or traveling anymore! It will be so amazing to feel like we’re a parenting team again.

  10. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello, Theodore Taylor III! That’s awfully fun to say: Theodore Taylor the Third. I enjoy alliteration, and I enjoy your artwork! Thank you for sharing. I like the sound/shockwave motifs.

    Jules and Shannon: There’s a new movie version of Great Gilly Hopkins in the works.

    Jules, continued: Yay for the music and the good times. But you can keep all of the sushi. That graphic for PB month is adorable! Who drew it?

    Shannon, continued: Congrats to your husband, and to you and the teachers involved!

    Margie: I have yet to be on a ferry, but one of the pieces I’m writing right now takes place on a ferry. What do you like best about that mode of transportation? Least? Do you get seasick? Do you get annoyed by people asking questions? 😉

    Stacey: Welcome back! 🙂

    Tarie: So glad that you are okay. I hope that your loved ones are all safe and sound. Congrats to your brother.

    Jone: Sounds like a good week filled with books.

    Moira: Excellent! Hugs to your sister, and your daughter. Good luck with the sales.

    Adrienne: I am guessing I wouldn’t want anything Doctor Sleep prescribed. Hug the cats for me!

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) One of my original short plays is getting a professional staged reading this week!
    2) Watching city.ballet on AOL Originals
    3) Monologue
    4) Dialogue
    5) Same page
    6) Sharing
    7) Indulge

  11. Jone: Ahhh! Now I know why some covers are like that. And I like this first grader already for wanting to discover the secret stories. … And what is Slappy Cakes? Are we talkin’ cupcakes here? Mmm.

    Moira: Thanks for the link! And I love your second and third kicks.


    Tarie (this warrants caps, too): THANK GOODNESS YOU ARE OKAY. Congrats to your brother!

    Shannon, I read all about that Board of Education meeting, and I’m so proud of you all. Soldier on! … Big congrats to your husband!

    Little Willow: I usually get vegetarian sushi. Is that okay? Or do you just hate all kinds of sushi? … The Picture Book Month graphic was created by Joyce Wan. .. Congrats on the staged reading! I’m so excited for all your screenwriting successes of late. … And hear hear to indulging.

  12. Moira, yes! Donuts or cup cakes.
    Jules, slappycakes is a resturant where you get to make your pancakes at the table…like pancakes with chocolate chips and/ or crumbled sausage or both. I had whole wheat with lemon curd and maple syrup.

  13. Hi Jules and All Imps!
    been away for a few weeks myself – at least as far as commenting goes. I’ve dipped in to enjoy art an kicks, however.
    Great news all around for Imps and Kickers! Cool stuff happening – and the pancake place – Slappy Cakes – holy moly what an idea!!!!

    WHAT a book, looking forward to a closer study. I really like the color choices and perspectives.

    I loved the Sam Phillips piece and yay! for Jules’ ‘Why Picture Books Are Important.

    So glad that those of you who can are appreciating the benefits of winter and especially SNOW. I miss it!

    Congrats to Emmaco – hope baby and all are well.

    My Kicks:
    1. just got home from doing a special concert our choir with the COOLEST director who I love to sing for.

    2. Our Tiny just cut her first tooth at 8 1/2 months. Thanks to her baltic amber necklace we didn’t even know the tooth was coming!

    3. a SO rare free afternoon for reading, cooking, cleaning and reading 7Imp – of course.

    Happy Week and Happy Art!

  14. Jules: Kudos to Joyce, because that is adorable to the max. Thanks! The actors in this piece are outstanding. I’m blessed. I’ve never had sushi. I have heard the vegetarian options are tasty, but since the smell of seafood makes me physically ill, I have never had the desire to go into a sushi place.

    Jone: Now I want a pancake.

    Allison: A resounding and harmonic yay for all of your kicks!

  15. Ooh, Jone. Neat concept.

    Allison: Is there any hope for snow for you all AT ALL? Congrats on the tooth. My youngest finally lost (last night) a very stubborn tooth that was causing lots of drama ’round here.

    Little Willow: Outstanding actors make all the difference, don’t they?

  16. I have been away for a long weekend so the baby could visit my dad & his wife – lots of cuddles and cute smiles and gurgles shared! And I feel relaxed after not cooking or cleaning for a few days. So that’s my kicks!

    The kicks here are all so nice. It’s like a snapshot of perfect seven imp kicks – lots of small wonderful moments. And I’m especially glad that Tarie is ok as I am watching TV at the moment and am shocked at the devastation in the Phillipines.

  17. FOR REAL. I feel like we are so, so, so lucky that Tarie is okay.

    I’m glad you had a long weekend, and have an excellent week, Emmaco.

  18. And I’m so lucky to have all of you checking up on me! :o)

  19. […] city life for a small, quiet one far away. I wasn’t feeling it.” This — the opening spread of Theodore Taylor III’s Off the Wall (Roaring Book), published in October 2022 — depicts the narrator, looking out […]

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