Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Written by: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by: Christopher Myers
Elementary and Junior High Grades
"The father-and-son team behind blues journey creates a scintillating paean to jazz. Walter Dean Myers infuses his lines (and the rests between them) with so much savvy syncopation that readers can't help but be swept up in the rhythms. "Stride," for example, narrated by a piano man, captures the spirit of a "band on fire." On a delphinium-purple page, below each line of white type ("I got jump in my feet, and I'm turning up the heat, left hand hauling"), two significant words from that line dance in black script ("jump"/ "feet"), functioning like the chords a jazz pianist uses as percussive punctuation within a tune. Visually, the page's typography evokes long white and short black piano keys. Christopher Myers lays black-inked acetate over brilliant, saturated acrylics. The resulting chiaroscuro conjures the deep shadows and lurid reflections of low-lit after-dark jazz clubs. The artist dynamically enlarges key compositional elements: a massive bass, a long ago drummer's muscular back, and fingers—poised over keys, plucking strings, splayed along a flute. Design sings here, too: Louis Armstrong's spread upends, befitting that jazz giant. A cogent introduction, selective glossary and chronology round out this mesmerizing verbal and visual riff on a uniquely American art form."
Publishers Weekly Review