March 22, 2018

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Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney | SLJ Review

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RhtymRIdePINKNEY, Andrea Davis. Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound. 176p. chron. discog. index. notes. photos. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596439733.
Gr 5 Up–A tour of the musical powerhouse’s history done with verve and panache. “The Groove” takes readers through the birth and demise of Motown, one of the most influential African American-owned enterprises in the world’s social and musical history. Centering around Gordy Berry, the talented tastemaker and eventual mogul, the ingenious narration highlights the company’s humble beginnings—a pipe dream financed by Berry family’s investment of $800—and embeds the stories of the many legends and stars that were born in its studios into the social upheavals and landmark events of the time. From the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and the Vietnam protests of the 1970s, these important milestones are interspersed throughout, bringing home the important place Motown had not only in the proliferation of rhythm and blues, rock, and disco into American culture but also its integration into the African American identity. The funky and melodic narrative style never wears thin and the familiar conceit helps make the darker parts of history age-appropriate for the audience. The thorough and detailed resources, photos, time line, and discography will encourage readers to want to learn more about the well-known Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and Marvin Gaye, and the not-so-well-known Funk Brothers—Motown’s official studio band. VERDICT A well-crafted spin that will reverberate in the hearts of music, African American culture, and history buffs.–Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

This review was published in School Library Journal‘s August 2015 issue.

See also:

Q&A: In the Groove with Andrea Davis Pinkney
Shelley Diaz About Shelley Diaz

Shelley M. Diaz ( is School Library Journal's Reviews Team Manager and SLJTeen newsletter editor. She has her MLIS in Public Librarianship with a Certificate in Children’s & YA Services from Queens College, and can be found on Twitter @sdiaz101.