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JAM, TOO? by JaNay Brown-Wood Kirkus Star


by JaNay Brown-Wood ; illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2024
ISBN: 9780593323762
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

A cumulative story with rhythm, rhyme, and a bopping bunch of percussionists.

Nearly every day, a brown-skinned man carries a conga drum across the street and plays on the beach where all can hear: “pat-a-pat-a, pat-pat.” The young narrator, who has brown skin and curly brown hair, longs to join in, but without an instrument, this seems impossible. As the narrator watches from across the street, a skateboarding djembe drummer asks to join in, followed by a woman with a shekere, a man with zills, a biking couple with maracas, and an adult and child with bongos. Each percussion instrument has its own onomatopoeic sound that undulates across the pages as the beat variations grow. Unable to resist any longer, the narrator shyly asks, “Can I jam, too?” The way the protagonist joins in changes everything. In Alcántara’s richly colorful illustrations, the blues of sky and ocean, the tan sand, and the lush, green land remain constant while the musicians add as much color as they do sound, illustrating the amazing way that making music can bring people together and create community. Alcántara effectively captures the diversity of the characters in this African diasporic setting, illustrating various skin tones, hair styles and textures, clothing styles, fabric patterns, and more. With nearly singable text, this tale beckons readers to move.

A fantastic book-jam that delights the ear just as much as the eye.

(Picture book. 4-7)