Cover image for Summertime : from Porgy and Bess
Summertime : from Porgy and Bess
Gershwin, Ira, 1896-1983, librettist.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations, music ; 29 cm
Paintings depict a family's routine one summer day earlier in this century.
General Note:
Based on the composition Summertime from the folk opera entitled Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin.
Format :


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PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Summertime and the livin' is easy, Fish are jumpin', and the cotton is high... Nothing captures the feelings of summer better than the much-loved song from Porgy and Bess, "Summertime." Its majestic imagery and deep spirituality touch listeners today as they have for generations. Now, with acclaimed illustrator Mike Wimmer's lush oil paintings depicting a family's routine one summer day earlier in this century, an American classic takes on a whole new meaning. Including the score of the song, Summertime is both a gentle book for family sharing and a lavish gift to be treasured. ...there's a nothin' can harm you With Daddy and Mama standin' by.

Author Notes

Jacob Gershvin, George Gershwin's real name according to his birth registry, began his music career when he was 16 years old by playing piano in music stores to demonstrate new popular songs. He later studied piano with Ernest Hutcheson and Charles Hambitzer in New York and studied harmony with Edward Kilenyi and with Rubin Goldmark. Gershwin was an almost immediate success with his song "Swanee."

Gershwin also studied counterpoint with Henry Cowell and with Joseph Schillinger. Schillinger's influence can be seen in many of Gershwin's pieces, particularly in Porgy and Bess, an opera written for black singers using African American musical styles. Rhapsody in Blue, for piano and jazz orchestra, is another ground-breaking piece, incorporating jazz and blues sources and idioms in the classical concerto style. His song "I Got Rhythm" has been performed thousands of times in hundreds of ways by jazz musicians. His brother, Ira, wrote the lyrics for many of his songs.

His melodic talent and genius for rhythmic invention are what made Gershwin an important American composer. He died at the age of 38 of a gliomatous cyst in the brain. Every year on the anniversary of his death, Lewisohn Stadium in New York holds a memorial concert.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4^-8. The haunting lyrics of Summertime, the opening vocalization from the folk opera Porgy and Bess, make up the text of this evocative picture book. The lyrics lend themselves to visual interpretation, and Wimmer has taken a literal and lovely approach. "Summertime / And the livin' is easy," the first line, sets the mood for the song and the pictures. The art's focus is on an African American family: the children fish and play in the lake, Grandpa swings on a hammock, the family goes to church. There is a palpable safety "with Daddy and Mama standing by." Although the activities depicted are everyday, Wimmer's luxuriant oil paintings glow with love and family warmth. Lyrics and music appended. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

This shimmering picture-book adaptation of a Gershwin tune from Porgy and Bess may be primarily for adults, but Wimmer's (Flight: The Journey of Charles Lindbergh) lifelike portraits of a vibrant, closely knit African-American family are a pleasure for anyone to behold. Beautifully capturing the look and feel of Southern summer days, the paintings show the children splashing in the pond where "fish are jumpin' " while the adults work the cotton crops ("the cotton is high"), nap ("the livin' is easy") or bake apple pie in the kitchen. Wimmer's almost photographic oil paintings shift the action from the 1930s, when Porgy and Bess was first staged, to more contemporary times, swathing the song's lyrics in a new light. For example, such lines as "One of these mornin's you're goin' to rise up singin'/ Then you'll spread your wings..." here take on a joyful meaning, showing the family at church with voices raised in song. Wimmer is in fine form here, suffusing with varying degrees of sunlight and haze his scenes bursting with leafy summer foliage and happy faces. Ages 5-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 5-Gershwin's haunting tune, full of nostalgia and a sweet melancholy, is transformed here into a lullaby picture book for parent and child. Wimmer's oil paintings depict an African-American farming family "earlier in this century," as the jacket copy suggests. There is a timeless feel to the illustrations that is hard to pinpoint. The clothing appears to be from the 1940s. The dry sink in the kitchen, ice togs (for an icebox), and general sparseness of the furnishings might indicate a family of limited means, but the children are well dressed, and the mood throughout the book is one of easy contentment. The double-spread paintings are rich in color and texture, and their realism indicates they were probably done from models. There is no real story line to the images; they exist as framed moments. Each depicts a "summery" family scene with one line of text. But-although written as a kind of lullaby-the song was never really intended for children, and the mood in the text and illustrations speaks primarily to adults. Still, because of its view into a specific kind of family life not often pictured in children's books and its lovely tone, this title may find an audience.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.