HOT JAZZ SPECIAL by Jonny Hannah


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 5 - 8
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It’s usually a bad sign when a publisher feels a need to print the entire text of a picture book a second time, at the end, without pictures. In this case, it’s clear why that choice was made: This offering, so thoroughly designed it hurts, features changing hand-lettered text that, although nicely decorative and integrated into the illustrations, is virtually unreadable in its eccentricity. Picture-book newcomer Hannah clearly aims to evoke poster illustrations of yore, with retro blues, ochres and reds dominating his images—but no self-respecting jazz club would ever use such uncommunicative lettering. There’s no real story as such here, just the page-by-page assembling of an all-star band at the fictitious Body and Soul Café, where young busboy Henry works and dreams of jazz. There’s one player per instrument, which leads to quite a gathering of luminaries, although somewhat arbitrary. The overall effect is busy beyond belief; the intent seems to be to create a visual sense of the variety and excitement of jazz—but it ends up no more than noise. To see it done right, dig out your copy of Mysterious Thelonious (1997) and give this one a miss. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 5th, 2010
ISBN: 0-7636-2308-3
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2005