Monday, February 16, 2009

Nonfiction Monday: Two Jazz Musician Biographies


Winter, Jonah. 2006. Dizzy. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Scholastic.

Dizzy is the picture book biography of Dizzy Gillespie. Written by Jonah Winter and illustrated by the masterful Sean Qualls, it is an entertaining look at a life. Poetic in nature, the book gets to the heart of the man, and the heart of the jazz scene. This pretty much sums it up,

"If a melody was like a rule, jazz was like breaking the rules, like inventing new rules. Jazz was getting in trouble--it was fun."

and

"For the boy with the horn, stuck inside a Podunk town in the Deep South, where white folks put you down, JAZZ was also like a ticket on a train to better days."

I enjoyed this one very much.

Parker, Robert Andrew. 2008. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum. Random House.

I was unfamiliar with this author and this artist. Art Tatum, I've come to learn, is a considered one of the all-time greats of jazz piano. A story that becomes only more inspirational when I learned that he was born nearly blind.

"Still, bad eyes can't keep me from playing the piano. My hands get to know the short black ones on top and long white ones below. I play more and more. And more. When my father leaves in the morning now, he gives me a quick hug and says, 'Don't wear out that piano today.' In the evening when my mother calls me to supper, I say, 'I'll be right back, Piano, don't go away.'

This book received some attention on award day this past January. And I can see why.

Both books are enjoyable and titles I'd be happy to recommend to young readers.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

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