Jimmy's Rhythm & Blues: The Extraordinary Life of James Baldwin (Hardcover)

Jimmy's Rhythm & Blues: The Extraordinary Life of James Baldwin By Michelle Meadows, Jamiel Law (Illustrator) Cover Image

Jimmy's Rhythm & Blues: The Extraordinary Life of James Baldwin (Hardcover)

By Michelle Meadows, Jamiel Law (Illustrator)


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Celebrate James Baldwin’s one-hundredth birthday anniversary with the first-ever illustrated biography of this legendary writer, orator, activist, and intellectual.

Before he became a writer, James “Jimmy” Baldwin was a young boy from Harlem, New York, who loved stories. He found joy in the rhythm of music, family, and books.

But Jimmy also found the blues, as a Black man living in America.

When he discovered the written word, he discovered true power. Writing gave him a voice. And that voice opened the world to Jimmy. From the publication of the groundbreaking collection of essays The Fire Next Time to his passionate demonstrations during the civil rights movement, Jimmy used his voice fearlessly.

Michelle Meadows, author of Brave Ballerina and Flying High, introduces young readers to the great American novelist, essayist, poet, playwright, orator, and artist James Baldwin, who, with the fire of his pen, dared a nation to dream of a more equitable world filled with love. Brought to life with warm illustrations by Jamiel Law, Jimmy’s Rhythm & Blues chronicles the life of an incredible visionary who left an indelible mark on American literature and history.


Michelle Meadows is the author of many acclaimed books for children. She loves dreaming up new projects and telling stories with heart. Some of her books include Flying High: The Story of Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles and Brave Ballerina: The Story of Janet Collins. Michelle also contributed to Black Ballerinas: My Journey to Our Legacy by Misty Copeland. With a passion for storytelling, Michelle graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and literature. Michelle grew up in Washington, DC, and now lives near the beach in Delaware with her husband. Visit Michelle at michellemeadows.com.

Jamiel Law is an illustrator, problem solver, and creative thinker. He was born and raised in Sarasota, Florida. It was here where Law was exposed to the arts and the cultures behind them. He strives to make every art piece matter by taking the time to consider its meaning and importance to himself and the viewer. The goal is to create work that resonates with others and establishes a genuine connection. When not at his desk, Jamiel can be seen lounging around with his family or hooping at a local park. You can visit Jamiel at jamiellaw.com.

[An] engaging narrative about Baldwin’s literary prowess and staunch activism. — Horn Book (starred review)

[An] elegantly rendered work. — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Jimmy's Rhythm & Blues captures the warmth and brilliance of Baldwin's writing and the tenderness and depth of his soul. Meadows's poetic prose hits all the right notes. — Renée Watson, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

Meadows retraces the career of a brilliant novelist and essayist. — Booklist

A high-quality introduction to an important figure in American literature.  — Kirkus Reviews

[A] joyful look at Black literary excellence. — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books