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JAZZ by Walter Dean Myers Kirkus Star


by Walter Dean Myers & illustrated by Christopher Myers

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 2006
ISBN: 0-8234-1545-7
Publisher: Holiday House

A cycle of 15 poems and vivid, expressive paintings celebrate that most American genre of music: jazz. Myers père presents readers with poems that sing like their subject, the drumming of African rhythms leading into a celebration of Louis Armstrong, an evocation of stride piano, a recreation of a New Orleans jazz funeral and a three-part improvisation among bass, piano and horn. A script-like display type appears sparingly, guiding readers to the sound of jazz embedded in the poems’ syncopated rhythms. Myers fils uses bold colors and lines straight from the muralists of the ’30s to create his illustrations, dramatic foreshortening and exaggerated angles a visual complement to the pulsing sounds being celebrated. It’s a very different look and treatment from that given to their earlier blues journey (2003), although equally successful at giving readers a visceral sense of its musical subject. A lengthy introduction, glossary and timeline give background to the whole. This offering stands as a welcome addition to the literature of jazz: In a genre all too often done poorly for children, it stands out as one of the few excellent treatments. (Picture book/poetry. 8+)