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April 11, 2023

Questlove to discuss his children's book 'The Rhythm of Time' at the Free Library

The hip-hop artist's book is a time travel adventure that explores themes of friendship, family and music

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson has added children's author to his lengthy list of creative accomplishments. 

On Sunday, The Roots drummer and film directer will promote his debut children's novel, "The Rhythm of Time," alongside co-writer S.A. Cosby, at the Free Library of Philadelphia's main branch. The authors will discuss the time travel adventure and explore its themes of friendship, family and music with Maori Karmael Holmes, the founder of Black-led arts organization BlackStar. The hour-long event begins at 3 p.m.

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Questlove started the project in a similar fashion to his other recent career moves — while stuck at home during COVID-19 lockdowns. He used the extra time to tick off some "bucket list things" he otherwise wouldn't have had time to do. They included his directorial debut in the Academy Award-winning "Summer of Soul," virtual DJ sets, purchasing a farm in upstate New York and finding the inspiration for a live-action adaptation of "The Aristocats." 

The book, which is due out Tuesday, April 18, is intended for children ages 10 and older. It tells the story of two teenagers in Philadelphia who love building and testing gadgets. But trouble arises when one of them gets sent back in time to the 1990s. The teens discover that the actions one of them takes in the past can influence their present lives. They work to get home safely, dodging bullies and government agents eager to get their hands on the time travel technology. 

"For a lot of kids of color, when you were growing up in the city, it's almost impossible to not be in a constant state of fight or flight," Questlove told People Magazine last year. "When you're living for safety, you're basically living a 24-hour existence, like 'Okay, I made that 24 hours now. Next right? I made that one.' And as a result, it doesn't really leave much space for the idealized way that we see child-rearing in media. I wanted to have a kind of revision." 

Tickets for the library appearance cost $26. Guests will receive a copy of the book, which they can pick up as they enter the auditorium. There will not be a book signing after the event, though a limited number of books will be pre-signed and given out on a first-come, first-seated basis. The books have been provided by Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books in Germantown. 

On Friday, Michelle Zauner, head of indie pop band Japanese Breakfast, will make an appearance at the library to promote her best-selling memoir, "Crying in H-Mart," which is being adapted into a feature film. 

Zauner will discuss her book with Homay King, a professor of history and art at Bryn Mawr College, where Zauner attended before making her way as a musician in the late 2000s. Though sit-down tickets are sold out, there are overflow tickets available for $28. Tickets come with a pre-signed book.

Questlove and S.A. Cosby: 'The Rhythm of Time'

Sunday, April 163 to 4 p.m. | $26Parkway Central Library1901 Vine St., Philadelphia, PA 19103