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Charlie Parker Played Be Bop
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Charlie Parker Played Be Bop

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  488 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
"In a daring attempt to capture the raw energy of Parker's music . . . Raschka (pens) a text that's as lean as a poem and as mean as a blues refrain" ("Publishers Weekly", starred review). Full-color illustrations.
Paperback, 32 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Scholastic Inc. (first published 1992)
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Oct 28, 2015 Eduardo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Personal Response:
I think the book Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is pretty good because it is about a real artist that plays the saxophone. He can make a lot of sounds. It is written as a poem. I liked the pictures because they are made of music symbols. I read this book to my niece Vicky. She is on kindergarten. She was laughing about the book.

In the beginning, Charlie leaves his cat at home. In the picture, the cat looks very sad because he is left at home. Charlie leaves to play music. T
Feb 01, 2010 June rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents and young children
Shelves: programbook
I find myself returning to use this book every year for storytime. The playful rhythm and rhyme of the book make it a wonderful introduction to be bop. The illustrations are very whimsical with a overshoes and lollipops walking around and Charlie Parker playing upside down on one page. What a fun way to introduce a child to Charlie Parker! There is also a kit available that has the story performed by Richard Allen and includes "Night in Tunisia" which inspired Raschka to write the book.
Jan 28, 2015 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
You have to really make this book your own in order for it to work. Sing the words, look up Youtube videos of teachers and librarians reading it aloud. Kids get into it if you do too! It's a great introduction to jazz and early rock and roll for grade school kids - it demonstrates the off-the-cuff style of be bop in an accessible way.
Saashya Rodrigo
I really couldn't connect with this book, and I LOVE jazz. I'm sure if it's read right, it'll be a great book. But I tried reading it several times and I just wasn't getting it. It made no sense to me.
So much fun at both baby/toddler and preschool storytimes. Very playful and unique. I love how Raschka conveys the essence of music for the very youngest kids, in both words and pictures.
Sam Bloom
Absolutely phenomenal - the audiobook is a must-have, brilliantly read / performed by Richard Allen.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
I need to find the audiobook for this book.
Sep 17, 2016 Briana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of my favorite books from when I was a child. I loved the rhythm of the book and how my Dad read it to me emphasizing all the "sounds" of the words like it was music actually being played. It did not really make a lot of sense, now looking back and reading it as an adult myself, but as a child the non-sense almost engaged me more and made me more in tune with the book. I would definitely read this and recommend this to anyone who has young children, but if you read it, you need to either rea ...more
Emily H.
May 06, 2012 Emily H. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: roser_top-25
Book type: Picture storybook
Intended audience: three year olds to five year olds. Preschool.

The first time I read this book I was completely unimpressed. I saw this, but then I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I gave someone a pile of fifty biographies for children in the age range of 4-8 years old. Two weeks later, that person, too, asked me the name of this book. I never even knew that there was a picture book genre about music. I'm glad there is. I think it would be fun to
May 08, 2016 jo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, music
There are a few books that I find myself buying over and over again. I always end up giving away my copy, or thinking of another person who *needs* to have it. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is definitely in that category.

On the surface, Chris Raschka's illustrations are so full of color and whimsy that you want to linger on each page a moment, just to breathe it in. But beyond that, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is one of those rare books that can actually make you feel what the author is describi
James Govednik
Aug 01, 2012 James Govednik rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
I just discovered this book, and I wish I had known of it earlier! Loved it! I read along as I listened to the audio CD the author released in 2000 with jazz vocalist Richard Allen (Live Oak Media—a different ISBN for some reason, which was illegible on the library CD). The audio recording really helps to fully appreciate the book, unless you have a natural sense of be bop jazz and scat singing. This genre works best when background information is included, and since the edition I read had none, ...more
Apr 22, 2011 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laptime
I've tried to do this one for storytime and didn't get the hang of the scat, but it has been recommended to me for laptime so I think I will try again. I have a lot more hope for it for laptime because babies will appreciate the sound and not be looking for meaning in the nonsensically language. Also, I'm going to have to pick up a copy with the CD because I think that will help loads.

Edit: *Sigh* I had hoped this book would make sense to me with the CD, it didn't. The CD goes through the book o
Sep 07, 2007 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is probably one of my favorite all-time books to read to my children. it has been a favorite around our house for years, and to all of my children. the playful, nonsensical narrative echoes the phrasing, rhythm, and playfulness of charlie parker's music -- or any bebop for that matter. this book is a wonderful early tool for nurturing music appreciation, individuality, creativity, humor, and general silliness. the artwork beautifully complements the narrative, which, i meant to add, absolut ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Kee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: etec545class2
“Charlie Parker Played Be Bop” by Chris Raschka plays like a good jazz tune filled with melancholic jazz tune filled with scats and rhythm. It’s a written performance of Charlie Parker, the bird, playing his saxophone. How Chris Raschka lexically annotated a musical performance is pretty amazing.

Words like boppitty, bibbitty echos in the background as rather darker hue of the pictures do justice in representing the somber mood ambiance of jazz. Simple and rhythmic words do justice mimicking the
Paul Farbman
Apr 26, 2014 Paul Farbman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kindergarten- First Grade
This book has a rhyming structure like this

"Charlie Parker played Be Bop.
Charlie Parker Played saxophone.
The music sounded like be bop.
never leave your cat alone." (Raschka)

This gives the text a musical quality and improvisational structure similar to that of jazz.

In addition to the random references to a cat, another seemingly strange reference is made to "barbecue that last leg bone" (Raschka). While these random references may confuse the reader at first, the teacher can explain how jazz musi
Great paintings of Parker with music spiraling inside him, coming up and out of his saxaphone and filling the air; (Raschka is a master of perspective and foreshortening, catching Bird all all kinds of angles). At moments the conceptual nature of the book seems to come undone. However, the whimsical appearance of birds adopting all kinds of different poses and disguises and the brooding cat don't so much play out a storyline as give the feeling of Parker's playing - any attempt to turn this line ...more
This picture book about saxophonist Charlie Parker simply must be read along with musical accompaniment--in order for readers and listeners to hear the beats that play out across the book's pages as well as in order to appreciate the musician's genius. As birds and objects move to the rhythm of his sounds, his faithful cat waits patiently at home. The cat looks positively sulky and put upon by the time the final illustration is in place. The sounds are fun to say and hear, and this book is likel ...more
Cat Fithian
I have read, re-read and sung this book so many times I can sing it for you now, without the book in hand. It is brilliant, engaging, fun to share, quick, and educational. I love that it's about a real jazz legend. I love that it demonstrates what it talks about - is there a word for a book that is, in its format and structure, exactly what it's talking about, like onomatopoeia but as a whole book? If there were a word for that, it would be this book. Suitable for all ages, any venue (even a bar ...more
This book is even better when read along with the CD. On the CD, Raschka provides a brief, but informative, background on Parker, jazz/bebop, the style of the oral reading and of the text. The CD also includes an original recording of "A Night in Tunisia" by Parker, Mingus, Gillespie, et al.

Fun, fun, fun - great use for storytime or to inspire writing and creative thinking. I plan to use the book and CD in April for Jazz Appreciation Month/Poetry Month. I will definitely purchase it for my nephe
Jun 26, 2008 Tommy rated it it was amazing
Saw this illustrator/author at the Decatur Book Festival, and his love of jazz enraptured me. I bought three of his books - this one, one about Monk, and one about Coltrane.

His illustrations are very jazz-inspired, and his syncopated approach to writing is fun and a great way to turn kids onto the rhythms and swing of classic jazz.

That my kids are 7 and 5 and now know who Bird and Trane are gives me hope. I appreciate this talented guy giving them an in-road to America's truest art form: jazz.
I liked the natural rhythm this book had. The book had a jazzy feeling just like the music Charlie Parker played, and it was obvious that this was intentional. I liked his book. I would use to to talk about Jazz Month or for African American History Month.
Interest Level
Grades PreK - 3
Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 1.7
Lexile Measure: AD140L
DRA: 20
Guided Reading: L
Autobiography and Biography
Composers and Musicians
African American
Karan Johnstone
Chris Raschka spoke at the Children's Literature Conference on 6/25/13. He gave great ideas of how to have the kids act out the books as it is read aloud. This way the kids not only listen but also get engaged in the book.
This book was about Charlie Parker and the sounds he made when he was playing the saxophone.
This would be a good book for a music teacher to use to introduce the saxophone.
Jan 18, 2008 Shawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes jazz and has a baby
Shelves: music, childrens
Don't worry, I'm not going to fill up my GoodReads list with childrens books. Only the very good (and perhaps the very bad). I'm not going to list every single Seuss book that I read.

But what can you say about a childrens book about Charlie "Bird" Parker and bebop? Fantastic! It has a great flow to the book and is very 50's jazzy.

I checked out the Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane books by Raschka, but this one is definitely the best.
Emilie Morris
Why this book?: To add depth to collection

Genre: Biography, Historical Fiction

Theme/Keywords: Jazz, Charlie Parker, Scat, Be Bop

Special Features: Some books come with CD that help kids understand rhythm and scat.

Characteristics of quality: Great for young children--rhythm and scat explored in the text.

Gender of primary character: Male

Race/ethnicity of primary character: African-American

Open Ended Question: Can you make music like he did? How?

Christian Houseworth
I love this book because it is like a song or a rhythm that I believe can hook and inspire all students. This book is included in the collection of African American literature. This book would be a great read aloud because the text is very simple and the students can easily pick up the lines. Also, this is a great book for teaching sound recognition. This is also a great book to integrate music and literature and to teach the writers craft of repetition.
This one grew on me over time. The first time I read it I was...just confused. What does the cat have to do with anything? Lollipops? Whaaat? I figured it was just because I don't really know much about Charlie Parker or jazz in general. But anyway, after hearing it read aloud several times, I started to really enjoy it. It's fun to get kids repeating the lines after you--there really is a great rhythm to it.

I still don't trust that cat though...
Brenda Kahn
When I shared Bird & Diz with one of my classes last week, I played Salt Peanuts! for them and it added another dimension to the read aloud. I remembered how while I loved Chris Raschka's Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, it wasn't until I heard the audio that I truly appreciated what Raschka did with the text. I dug it out of my personal archives, dusted it off and shared it with my students, who dug it.
Jan 06, 2014 Crystal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
How did I miss this FANTASTIC 1992 picture biography of Charlie Parker? How cool is the text to inspire both adults and the youngest of young? Yes, you can read this to babies and toddlers. They will dance to it! "Be bop. Fisk, fisk. Lollipop. Boomba, boomba. Bus stop. Zznnzznn. Boppitty, bibbitty, bop..." Thank you, my friend Margaret, for introducing me to this author. Never leave your cat alone.
Apr 28, 2015 June rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, librarians, & teachers
Recommended to June by: Pam Stovall
I have been using this for February story times since SPK. 4/25/11

This went over very well in Story Time. The children participated and enjoyed the sounds of the words. One girl grabbed it after Story Time and I'm not sure if she set it somewhere or snuck it home without checking it out. 4/18/12

Used again and was received extremely well in Story Time. It got the children giggling. 4/24/13

Used in Lap Time this year after reading Elissa's review and it went over well.
Once I learned how to read this in a be-bop rhythm I was amazed by its subtle brilliance. I love reading this book aloud to my kids -- it is really only to be read aloud with pizazz and expression -- otherwise you won't get it and it will fall flat.
I read it to my soc classes as an opener in classes on language and power.
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"I always try to treat the book itself as the artwork," Chris Raschka says. "I don't want you to stop while you're reading one of my books and say, 'Oh! What a gorgeous illustration!' I want you to stop at the end of the book and say, 'This is a good book.' "

Chris Raschka is one of those people who knew from an early age what he wanted to be when he grew up. "It was never a question in my mind,"
More about Chris Raschka...

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