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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An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his...

THOMAS JEFFERSON

THE ART OF POWER

A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson.

As a citizen, Jefferson became a central leader in America’s rebellion against the world’s greatest empire. As a diplomat, he mentored a similar revolution in France. As president, he doubled the size of the United States without firing a shot and established a political dynasty that stretched over four decades. These achievements and many more, Time contributing editor Meacham (American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008, etc.) smoothly argues, would have been impossible if the endlessly complicated Jefferson were merely the dreamy, impractical philosopher king his detractors imagined. His portrait of our most enigmatic president intentionally highlights career episodes that illustrate Jefferson’s penchant for balancing competing interests and for compromises that, nevertheless, advanced his own political goals. Born to the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson effectively disguised his drive for control, charming foes and enlisting allies to conduct battles on his behalf. As he accumulated power, he exercised it ruthlessly, often deviating from the ideals of limited government he had previously—and eternally—articulated. Stronger than any commitment to abstract principle, the impulse for pragmatic political maneuvering, Meacham insists, always predominated. With an insatiable hunger for information, a talent for improvisation and a desire for greatness, Jefferson coolly calculated political realities—see his midlife abandonment of any effort to abolish slavery—and, more frequently than not, emerged from struggles with opponents routed and his own authority enhanced. Through his thinking and writing, we’ve long appreciated Jefferson’s lifelong devotion to “the survival and success of democratic republicanism in America,” but Meacham’s treatment reminds us of the flesh-and-blood politician, the man of action who masterfully bent the real world in the direction of his ideals.

An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6766-4

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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THE BUG IN TEACHER'S COFFEE

AND OTHER SCHOOL POEMS

PLB 0-06-027940-0 Dakos’s collection of 23 poems from the perspective of items found at school satisfies the I Can Read requirements of simplicity and word repetition, but may not lure beginning readers back for a second time. The material is uninspiring: The school’s front door says, “Keep me shut,/I have the flu,/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Achooooooooo!/Keep me shut,/I have the flu.” A book sings “Happy Birthday” to a ruler, then sings “Happy Unbirthday” when the ruler says that it is not its birthday. Also appearing are a couple of clever items—one on a kidnapped pencil and another on a comb pulling hazardous duty—along with some typographic elements that amiably convey the idea that words are malleable; Reed’s illustrations possess geniality and character, making some inanimate objects very personable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027939-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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