Book Review – Jazz Baby

BookJazz Baby 

Author: Lisa Wheeler

Illustrator: R. Gregory Christie

Publisher: Harcourt, Inc., 2007

“Brother’s hands tap.

Sister’s hands snap.

Itty-bitty Baby’s hands

CLAP-CLAP-CLAP!”

Jazz Baby uses body percussion, singing, scatting, and dancing. The text mentions drummers and bass players, but we do not see any instruments, only a record player.

The rhythm of the text is fairly consistent throughout. Adult readers should be able to read this selection aloud with ease. The rhythmic form of the first eight pages is AAAB and continues in this vein with slight variations (i.e. Bass players strum.)

Classroom use: Using only quarter notes, eighth notes, and quarter rests, students could easily deduce the rhythmic structure of this book.

The illustrations leave plenty of white space and emphasize the characters and their movements. My only concern about the illustrations is the incorrect notation on two pages. The noteheads on eighth notes are facing the wrong direction and look like “b’s” on one page, and then pairs of eighth notes are turned to become hands and feet in an abstract image on the next page. However, this might create a wonderful teachable moment and open avenues of cross-curricular connections.

Book Review – This Jazz Man

BookThis Jazz Man

Author: Karen Ehrhardt

Illustrator: R.G. Roth

Publisher: Harcourt, Inc., 2006

 

This jazz man, he plays one,

He plays rhythm with his thumb,

with a snap! snap! snazzy-snap!

Give the man a hand,

This jazz man scats with the band.

This Jazz Man introduces nine well-known jazz greats to the rhythm of the folk song “This Old Man.” Each page uses onomatopoeia and introduces a range of instruments and important vocabulary such as scat, rhythm, congas, conducts, score, bebop, swings, encore, and more. The illustrations use “mixed media collage and printmaking on watercolor paper” and are eye-catching and jazz-worthy.

Note: The musicians are not introduced by name until the end in brief biographies of about one hundred words each. A careful observer will see hints in the illustrations as to their identities before reaching the end.

Tip: Take a quick look at the scat before class so you’re able to read aloud smoothly.


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Book Review – Martin & Mahalia: his words, her song

Book: Martin & Mahalia: his words, her song

Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney

Illustrator: Brian Pinkney

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Martin & Mahalia: his words, her song is a nonfiction picture book with beautiful artwork, poetic language, and smooth, easy-to-read-aloud text. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson shared a united vision and reached audiences with their gifts of speech and music. This book touches on their youth, mentions the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and climaxes with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. It is rich in backmatter including author and illustrator notes, selected discography, and an illustrated timeline. I recommend sharing a recording of “We Shall Overcome (Album Version)” by Mahalia Jackson when sharing this book with your students.

Disclosures: I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked items and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted website.