Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “John Coltrane's Giant Steps” as Want to Read:
John Coltrane's Giant Steps
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

John Coltrane's Giant Steps

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  116 ratings  ·  27 reviews
You may be surprised
at the tricky music
a box,
a snowflake,
some raindrops,
and a kitten
can make.

Right before your eyes.
And on the pages
of this book.

There is someone
watching, encouraging
our performers
but keeping them
under control.

Why not
listen along?
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about John Coltrane's Giant Steps, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about John Coltrane's Giant Steps

Journey to Jazzland by Gia Volterra De SaulnierThis Jazz Man by Karen EhrhardtMysterious Thelonious by Chris RaschkaCharlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris RaschkaJohn Coltrane's Giant Steps by Chris Raschka
Picture Books of JAZZ!
5th out of 15 books — 4 voters
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd MossGranny Will Your Dog Bite by Gerald MilnesCharlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris RaschkaThe Flying Orchestra by Clare McFaddenThe Phlunk's Worldwide Symphony by Lou Rhodes
Picture Books About the Art of Music
77th out of 112 books — 7 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 169)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Originally posted on my blog, A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall:

John Coltrane's Giant Steps was one of our library finds. It offered so much more than I expected in a children's book! The CD included with the book is a must; this is really meant to be experienced as an entire package. The CD offers two tracks: one with page turn cues, one without.

The story's "performers" are some raindrops on drums, a box playing string bass, a snowflake on piano, and an adorable kitten on tenor sax. (Get it? Raind
I have never read another book like this. He uses symbols to play music all over the pages. Very unique! Raschka uses great creativity in composing the "music" in this book. It would be fun to either create music or use the song Coltrane when reading this book. Or, students could make their own art to music. It could be an anticipatory set to learning about jazz.
As one of my students said, "this books makes no sense."

I get the whole trying to be artsy-fartsy and write and illustrate a book about jazz, but seriously?!

I like jazz and don't see the connection to the ending of this picture book.
Frederic Gleach
I loved Raschka's newest, The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra: The Sound of Joy Is Enlightening, but this one didn't do it for me. I know Coltrane and "Giant Steps" quite well, but I couldn't see how the illustrations and text here -- as cute as they are -- add anything, or how they could realistically help a new listener to better understand the piece. Nice effort though, and it clearly led to even stronger works.
I spent an hour and a half shelf-straightening in our kids lit section, and came up with this irresistible picture book. The author credit, "remixed by chris raschka," sealed the deal. Raschka basically breaks down the basic components of music and gives each (tempo, beat, harmony, and melody) a visual tag that is easily recognizable when they appear on the following pages.

In the style of a laidback conductor, the book's narrator calls forth the music and makes them combine on the page. Interes
I love what this book did to "illustrate" music.
It can also be easily adapted to create a lesson for children.
I've used the book to show the children what can be "seen" when listening to a song, then we listened to the piece and discussed how the pictures matched what the sounds were.
You can then steal this idea to use with other pieces of music.
What a heady book, man.
It could be interesting to read this book to kids and have them listen Giant Steps, and then read the book again to see if kids felt differently. Or I would be really curious to see this in an ASL Storytime setting. Also if Wynton Marsalis could read this I would appreciate that.
Interestingly, the author/illustrator tries to visually create John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" with some help from a box, a snowflake, raindrops, and a kitten. With the raindrops representing tempo, the box representing sound foundation, the snowflake representing the harmony, and the kitten representing the melody, readers are taken on a visual tour of an auditory experience. When things go wrong, the author (or conductor) interrupts the music with suggestions about how to improve. The watercolor ...more
This interesting book seeks to recreate Coltrane's composition "Giant Steps" entirely with visual art. It's an interesting concept, but I think young readers will be completely lost without the actual music to give the book some context. I presented the book in a Children's Lit class and experimented a bit. First I read through the opening pages, and then I played the Giant Steps CD while quickly flipping through the pages. My classmates definitely "got" the book with the CD playing, and I think ...more
This book is just weird. But it would be weird in a good way if it could be read to students by an enthusiastic music teacher who loves jazz and could convey the message of the book. While I consider myself rather musically adept, I'm not very knowledgeable about jazz and so the abstractness of this book left me scratching my head a bit. I think it has a cool concept, my brain just hasn't figured out what it all means yet.
John Coltrane's Giant Steps is an excellent song regardless of how well one understands the complexities of his music. However, this lovely "remix" my Chris Raschaka paints the song out and exposes some of it's more hidden details. It's a simple idea and a fun to read book, and after it you can listen to Giant Steps and realize that now you have a better understanding of the song without having to attend some sort of "Understanding Jazz" class.
Molly Raspberry
I chuckled when I first saw Raschka's book at a local kids bookstore. I never thought of Coltrane's piece that way until I read the book. If only I were a kid again and someone hand me a recording of Giant Steps along with this book, it would've made me the happiest kid on earth. In hindsight, I should have gotten a copy of this book for myself.

This is definitely recommended for young musicians to be, or young music audiences to learn about jazz!
I was glad to see Coltrane make it into a children's book, but the concept worked better for me than the execution. Nonetheless, Raschka's illustrations are strong and full of energy like the music that inspired it, with the layering of symbols/images to parallel the tempo, beat, harmony and melody. Cool cat!
If I was rating this for personal enjoyment it would be four stars. I like it. But I've had 8 years of music performance experience. I don't think I would have "gotten" the book without that.

Kids will be confused by it - probably - not excited about listening to Coltrane.
Fisal Ansari
Grades 9--YA

Picture book/poetry.

African American jazz.


Personal response:
Great mix of music, poetry and pictures.

Curricular or programming connections:
Not sure.
I picked up this book yesterday at the Joslyn Art Museum store. It is a beautiful, visual exploration of the music of John Coltrane, particularly his rhythm. I think it would be a great book to use in teaching a child about jazz and improvisation.
This book might take some analyzing from students. I don't think they will get it right away. It might help to play the song too and discuss how each instrument works together to form a song (like the box, snowflake, kitten, and raindrop)
Amber Cooper
Can be a very confusing book for children, but it can be introduced in a classroom or music room as a whole group to be explained. Mainly for music literature, this picture book shows the reader how to picture beat/temp/melody. Very interesting...
Mirranda Rhea
I did not like this one. I did however like how he includes the readser in the book. Tells you what they are going to do and how each thing has its own job. I did like that, but other than that I did not like the book.
Absolutely fabulous for music lovers. It's beautiful even if you don't know anything about music, but there is a lot of musical jargon, so I really don't know how it would appeal to those who don't know it.
A visual symphony of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Watercolor elements are layered to create a visual representation of the song.

A great music read for PreK-2.
Raschka is one of my favorite illustrators, and this one is a lot of fun to read aloud to an elementary school class, or one-on-one.
Christine Turner
Description: 1 sound cassette (14 min.) : analog, Dolby processed + 1 book (33 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm.).

This is a great book for integrating music and literature.
Quite a feat, making music with pictures. Bravo.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
"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...
A Ball for Daisy Yo! Yes? Daisy Gets Lost Charlie Parker Played Be Bop Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle

Share This Book