JAZZ ABZ

AN A TO Z COLLECTION OF JAZZ PORTRAITS

At last: a jazz book that thrillingly, exhilaratingly, palpitatingly gets it. Jazz master Marsalis presents a cycle of poems that alliteratively jitterbugs through some 26 verse forms and 26 jazz greats, from Louis Armstrong to Dizzy Gillespie. These poems are set against Rogers’s striking black-and-earth-toned poster-like prints and represent a sort of verbal immersion in jazz. Readers are invited to join in the performance poem that celebrates Art Blakey/Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, presenting them with drum beats and riffs that punctuate the stanzas. A syncopated limerick presents Gerry Mulligan, a nursery rhyme, Nat “King” Cole, a sonnet, Sarah Vaughan. The poems clearly do not aim for straight biography, instead plunging readers into a direct jazz experience, the alliteration, rhythm and rhyme creating the meaning instead of containing it. The alphabet poem that dizzyingly, dazzlingly introduces a deeply shadowed Ornette Coleman riffs giddily through the alphabet, the string of words meaningless in themselves but resulting in a concatenation of sounds that channels his avant-garde saxophone directly into readers’ ears. Brief biographical sketches by Phil Schaap and notes on the verse forms round out the text, which closes, appropriately enough, with a discography. Yeahhhh. (Poetry. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2135-8

Page Count: 76

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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IS THIS FOREVER, OR WHAT?

POEMS AND PAINTINGS FROM TEXAS

This sumptuously designed gathering of poetry and paintings from 140 Texans (or former Texans) will lead readers not so much to that state specifically, as to a state of mind: a “sense of generous horizons and spaciousness,” to quote the much-honored editor. Ranging in style from abstract to photorealistic, the 44 paintings include still lifes, landscapes, portraits of people or wildlife, evocations of folk art, pop art, or expressionistic studies in color. The poetry, being all free verse and, with a single exception (plus scattered phrases), in English, is less varied in voice or imagery, but flows smoothly from one selection to the next. Despite recurring references to snakes, heat, pecans, and the sound of running water, it deals less with distinctively regional topics than with such universal themes as the immigrant experience, small-town customers at the Dairy Queen, vivid childhood memories, personal reflections, absent friends, or contemplations of nature. Except for Pat Mora, Sandra Cisneros, and a handful of others, these poets and artists have had little or no exposure nationwide; Nye has done them a real service with this deep (though not wide) cross-section. (biographical notes, indexes) (Poetry. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-051178-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2004

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An excellent work of children’s nonfiction that just may inspire the next Chuck Yeager.

Chuck Yeager Goes Supersonic

AN ACTION-PACKED, TRUE FLYING ADVENTURE

This straightforward biography engages young readers’ imaginations, respects their intelligence and takes them along on an exciting, real-life adventure.

From Chuck Yeager’s childhood in the Depression, through his experience in World War II, flight school and finally his chance to pilot the first supersonic flight, this debut children’s book brings his biography to life and includes a science lesson for eager young minds, as well. Biermann expertly weaves vignettes from Yeager’s life—like the time he plowed a test plane through a chicken coop—into the narrative, creating a tale with a cinematic, easy-to-follow rhythm. These anecdotes illustrate Yeager’s character in a natural, show-don’t-tell fashion. Biermann’s explanation of the science behind sound waves, the sound barrier and supersonic flight is so clear and memorable, it’s sure to stick with readers well into their adulthood. (Some adults who read this to kids will be relieved to have this burden lifted from them, so they don’t have to sputter out shaky explanations themselves.) While this story may inspire a lifelong interest in science, it’s unlikely to inspire a lifelong love of poetic language. From the very first paragraph—“Chuck Yeager loved to fly airplanes. He loved to fly high. He loved to fly fast.”—the language is a bit unadorned. But it is crystal clear, precise and geared with almost mathematical accuracy to a young elementary reading level. Science- and adventure-minded readers who are just here for the sonic boom won’t care that the book reads more like a technical manual than poetry. The illustrations are of a piece with the language: precise down to the buttons and badges on Yeager’s flight suit but flat and stylized, reminiscent of old-school film strips. And, like the language, while the illustrations are not inspiring or beautiful, they are perfectly suited to the book’s likely audience, who will probably be scrutinizing the cockpit controls.

An excellent work of children’s nonfiction that just may inspire the next Chuck Yeager.

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480276321

Page Count: 48

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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