Book Review: Jazz

Jazz1. Bibliography

Myers, Walter Dean. 2006. Jazz. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823415458.

Review of both the print book and the 2007 Live Oak Media audiobook.

2. Plot Summary

This beautifully illustrated and fun collection of poems explores and celebrates jazz music and history, especially in New Orleans. From a introduction to jazz itself to a picture of New Orleans funerals to a description of all the parts of jazz, this book begs to be read aloud with a live jazz band accompaniment.

3. Critical Analysis

Walter Dean Myers’ poetry book Jazz can be appreciated in its print version, but the absolute best way to enjoy Myers’ poetry is listening to the audiobook. The cd audiobook is read by James “D-Train” Williams and Vaneese Thomas; some of the poems they read in unison, some they trade off parts. Additionally, the poems are read over jazz music composed especially for this audiobook; some of the poems are sung along with the music rather than merely read. I could hardly sit still while listening to these wonderful poems!

As is appropriate for poetry discussing the topic of jazz, Myers’ poems have a musical quality with a nice, flowing rhythm. The rhythm really is the star of these poems – the rhythm perfectly captures jazz and, thus, ensnares the reader/listener. Care is given to diction to ensure that the printed words mimic the jazz technique or scenario being discussed.

4. Review Excerpts

2006 – Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year

2006 – Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Books

2007 – ALA Notable Books for Children

2007 – Golden Kite Awards

2007 – Coretta Scott King Awards Honor

From Publishers Weekly: ” cogent introduction, selective glossary and chronology round out this mesmerizing verbal and visual riff on a uniquely American art form.”

From Booklist: “Middle-graders will feel the sound of the words and pictures working together, and younger kids will hear and see that connection when adults share the book with them.”

5. Connections

-For secondary students: Listen to/read at the beginning of a poetry unit to help make the connection between poetry and music

(Created in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the TWU course LS5603.20 Literature for Children and Young Adults)

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