DJANGO by Bonnie Christensen


The World’s Greatest Jazz Guitarist
Age Range: 5 - 9
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The brilliant jazz guitarist’s life from birth in a Roma camp to stardom on a floodlit Paris stage,is sketched in free verse and vibrant oils. Occasionally ranging into trochaic tetrameter (think “Hiawatha”) and arguably over-reliant on gerunds for punch, the author reduces biographical details to an essence that sometimes jars. “Still a boy he’s playing dance halls. / Fingers flying down the fretboard. / Writing waltzes, making records, / Putting money on the table.” The narrative finds its dramatic core in the fire that rages through Django’s wagon, badly burning his hands. His long recuperation is depicted against grays that gradually brighten as he heals and adapts to playing without the use of two fingers on his left hand. Christensen excels as a colorist: The blue-violet light of a jazz club is offset by ochre horns and a pianist’s green-gold sheath dress. Faces throughout seem curiously devoid of emotional depth; roughly sketched features result in sad or wry or neutral miens that contribute an air of detachment that color alone fails to redeem. Meritorious but ultimately disappointing. (author’s notes, bibliography, discography) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-59643-422-6
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2009


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