Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge - Jazz Day

Alyson Beecher over at Kid Lit Frenzy hosts a Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge and has a roundup every Wednesday. I love the encouragement to explore more nonfiction. My plan is to read at least 100 nonfiction picture books this year. So far, I've read 69 this year.

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo

Goodreads summary: When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off? In a captivating collection of poems, Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of Harlem 1958, bringing to life the musicians’ mischief and quirks, their memorable style, and the vivacious atmosphere of a Harlem block full of kids on a hot summer’s day. Francis Vallejo’s vibrant, detailed, and wonderfully expressive paintings do loving justice to the larger-than-life quality of jazz musicians of the era. Includes bios of several of the fifty-seven musicians, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph.

My thoughts: Without question, my favorite part of the book was the foldout photograph. I hadn't been reading long before I began to flip furiously through the book to see if the picture was actually there.

This is a fantastic view into that one day when so many jazz musicians gathered together. The magazine Esquire was going to have an issue about American jazz and this photo would help showcase many people at once.

The text is written in many separate poems that highlight a handful of people involved in the story. At the end, there are brief biographical sketches about each of those highlighted. There is also an author's note that includes a map an outline that numbers and then labels each of the participants in the picture.

The source notes, bibliography, and other backmatter are thorough. I also really enjoyed seeing the page that listed and explained the many other ways that picture has been referenced such as the creation of a documentary about the day, a character in the movie The Terminal carrying autographs of the photograph participants, and copycat or "homage" photographs.

I really enjoyed some of the poems like How to Make a Porkpie Hat, What to Wear (from A to Z) The Musicians, and At the Window: A Girl. I appreciated the poems, but I especially loved the illustrations. They are done in acrylics and pastel and have a realistic feel. They are done in a way that makes the book seem as if we are really looking back through time.

This would be a book that would work well in a music class, but would also work in a regular classroom though I am not sure if I would read it straight through. It might be a good one to take bit by bit.

1 comment:

  1. This would pair so well with other amazing jazz books like Trombone Shorty and Little Melba. I love books that celebrate diversity and music! :)