Piano Starts Here

Common Sense Media says

Masterful illustrations and an inspirational bio.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

Despite setbacks, Art Tatum becomes a master pianist.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this book may be too long-winded for the youngest listeners, but its inspirational message makes it worth a shot.

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What's the story?

Art Tatum is born blind in Toledo, Ohio, and eventually becomes world-famous as a leading jazz pianist.

Is it any good?


Art Tatum was born in Toledo, Ohio, legally blind but well-loved. He grew up at the piano eventually becoming world-famous and revered. This book traces his beginnings, letting kids glimpse the childhood of one of jazz's most inspirational talents.

Parker is a Caldecott honor-winning illustrator and his pictures here do much to bring the story to life with old-fashioned details that effectively convey the time period. The story itself may be too long for some of the littlest kids, but parents can start with the pictures and then move to the text as their child's attention span lengthens. For those kids caught up in Tatum's story, Parker supplies a more thorough biography in back along with resources families can explore.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can listen to some of Art Tatum's music to understand how truly talented he was. Kids who like his music can explore other artists of the same era and the musicians who went on to interpret Tatum's work.

Book details

Author:Robert Andrew Parker
Illustrator:Robert Andrew Parker
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:Schwartz & Wade
Publication date:January 8, 2008
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Read aloud:4
Read alone:8

This review of Piano Starts Here was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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