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Mysterious Thelonious

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  104 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Audacious and extraordinary, this picture book is not a portrait of the great pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. Imagine, instead, that the music of Mr. Monk were to sit for a portrait. It might look something like this -- enticing and unexpected, richly colored and patterned, brilliantly executed. Inspired by one of Monk's best-loved compositions, "Mysterioso", Mr. ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 1st 1997 by Scholastic (first published 1997)
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Oct 15, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
[First, play Monk while reading this book.] I don't know how many children will enjoy this book, but it is very visceral. ! maybe more so because of its small format. Every syllable is a different colored square on the grid, like notes on a staff. And on every 2-page spread, Monk is in some pose, whether in motion, stretching, paused, or at the piano. The colors throughout are so rich, whether backgrounds of strong red or blues and greens, or the syllable-notes of every imaginable color. One of ...more
This is a tricky one to read aloud without having practiced. The text bounces around the pages. It totally fits the subject though. It feels like jazz in words. I enjoyed the bright colors and unique format even though it made reading more of a challenge.
Dec 05, 2016 Garren rated it it was ok
I'm not sure this is a helpful book for storytime or anything, but I appreciate the weirdness as an adult.
Jun 06, 2015 Dominik rated it really liked it
The book is based on the song "Misterioso" by Thelonious Monk. This is some kind of experiment, as the story and visual concept of the book are subjected to this composition.

At first glance, the book might seem chaotic, but in fact it is meticously organized. Twelve musical tones were combined with a scale of twelve colors, so each note (a syllable, in this case) has a different color. In the result, "Mysterious Thelonious" looks like a printed version of a jazz song - it is colorful and bright,
May 09, 2013 Barbara rated it liked it
Brilliant concept to create a portrait of the musician's notes and sounds, this book simply must be read while being accompanied by Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso." The author/illustrator uses music, text, and color to represent the sounds created by Monk. The watercolor illustrations feature words or syllables that hop from place to place on various colored squares on each page. Intended with someone with some musical acuity, the picture book may inspire young readers to learn about this man who ...more
I really like the concept of this book from an artistic perspective. It is written in such a unique style so as to reflect the music Thelonious played, each word being a note in his story and no note being a wrong note. Readers will benefit the most from reading this book while playing some of the subject's music softly in the background so as to immerse themselves in the experience.

That being said this is not an easy book to read because it isn't written from left to right as readers of the Eng
I’m not sure I can describe this book, but if you like jazz, and Thelonious Monk, you will love it! Chris Raschka has combined the 12 musical tones of the chromatic scale with the 12 color values of the color wheel to attempt a harmony between the two. The book’s words are arranged like jazz, and when reading, I found I needed to relax and go with the flow, which is unusual, yet brilliant. I could almost hear the piano in the background! You readers will have to see the book, for older students ...more
Apr 04, 2016 Beth rated it it was amazing
Just like Thelonious, this book is a bit mysterious, but in a fun and whimsical way, not a spooky way. Chris Raschka has attempted a rather ambitious feat, which is to try to translate the feeling of jazz in words, lines, colors, and drawings. The way the words and syllables dance on the page is indicative of notes on a scale. Musically inclined readers are likely to hear a beat and occasional jazz riff in their minds as they read this book. Mysterious Thelonious not so much a story as an ...more
Sandy Brehl
This small format picture book about Thelonious Monk plays out syllable by syllable on a multi-color grid which is a visual score of jazz. This will be fascinating to anyone with a musical background- and those who don't!
Feb 21, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
Easily my favorite Raschka book. The book is designed so the words fall on certain colors, which represent notes on the scale. Neat idea; I'm just waiting to get my hands on a keyboard to figure out the tune.
Alaina Sloo
Dec 13, 2013 Alaina Sloo rated it liked it
This lovely and playful illustration of Monk's music isn't a picture book for young children. it's more a book for any child who will be intrigued to see music represented as color.
Jun 25, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books, art
Incredibly fun visual interpretation of Thelonius Monk's music. Also the cd that comes with the book includes a few different readings of the book's text in relation to Monk's music
Amanda Funnell
Jan 28, 2014 Amanda Funnell rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s
Beautiful to look at, but a challenge to read and impossible for a good read aloud. The cursive only adds to the confusion of the word set up.
Jul 03, 2013 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pb
This is a really really beautiful book with little substance. I would give it a better rating if it was a larger size. Hard for a beginner reader because of the layout and script font.
Chantelle Janelle
Mar 21, 2016 Chantelle Janelle rated it really liked it
Because of the way the text bounces it's a little jarring - but it's such a good metaphor, so creative, and so well-illustrated, had to give it four stars.
Dec 26, 2014 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing
Not quite as amazing a picture book as his John Coltrane book but simply delicious in terms of how Raschka uses words and text to explore jazz great Thelonius Monk
Sarah Ziskend
Good for:
- working on syllables
- learning about music
- might be hard for kids to follow the way the words are
- creative work
- good for teaching music slash beats
Scott Ableman
Scott Ableman rated it it was amazing
Nov 08, 2012
Jenny rated it really liked it
Jun 05, 2016
Jamil rated it liked it
Sep 13, 2010
Marta Kulpa
Marta Kulpa rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2015
John Mccracken
John Mccracken rated it really liked it
Jul 08, 2011
Lucia rated it really liked it
Jul 01, 2009
Mary Ann
Mary Ann rated it really liked it
Aug 16, 2014
Dorothy Thurgood
Dorothy Thurgood rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2014
David J.
David J. rated it it was amazing
Sep 23, 2014
Beverly rated it it was ok
May 30, 2012
Nqlsbs rated it it was ok
Nov 09, 2008
E rated it it was ok
Apr 11, 2008
Shawn rated it it was amazing
Jul 26, 2012
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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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