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Charlie Parker Played Be Bop

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  724 ratings  ·  139 reviews
The beloved best-seller by award-winning illustrator Chris Raschka, author and illustrator of YO! YES?, is now in board book format for young children.

Ever hear of Charlie Parker? The great jazz saxophone player? If you have or if you haven't, it's okay. Look at this board book and you'll hear Charlie Parker; you'll hear music in your mind.
"Be bop. Fisk, fisk. Lollipop. Bo
Board Book, 14 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Orchard (first published 1992)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  724 ratings  ·  139 reviews

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Dec 05, 2007 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. ...more
Saashya Rodrigo
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. 4/28/15

Used in Baby/Toddler S
Jan 28, 2015 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. ...more
My toddler liked this a lot. I wasn't sure she would since it seemed too abstract, but she's been asking for "Charlie Parker" and enjoys pointing out things in the pictures. She also got excited about listening to his music later, because she remembers the book. ...more
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
Jan 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely phenomenal - the audiobook is a must-have, brilliantly read / performed by Richard Allen.
Alyson (Kid Lit Frenzy)
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, picture-book, music
I need to find the audiobook for this book.
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
kids I've read this with have adored it because of all the sound effects. it could have better illustrations but the language and rhythm are amazing. ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
Mar 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picture-books
Oh, aren't we hip, schoolin' tiny kids about jazz....or at least telling ourselves that we are. ...more
Denise Lauron
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This would be a perfect bedtime book for a small child. I wasn't thrilled with the story, but I would imagine that a small child would enjoy the rhythm of the book. It was short and I'm not really sure why the cat was involved the book at all. ...more
Amy Layton
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: picturebooks
This book's narrative is meant to be read as though you were listening to be bop, making it an interesting and almost multi-media read!  That being said, it also might be a little jarring if you're not expecting this to be such an abstract picturebook!  But Chris Raschka does it again and combines both his incredible illustrations with a stylistic tone of narration.  It's a celebration of the genre, and of Charlie Parker.  Great for grades K-2.

Review cross-listed here!
Emily H.
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 22, 2007 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 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Paul Farbman
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Luisa Knight
Hmm. I think this is stretching a little - I'm not sure that children would be able to get the concept (I'm not entirely sure I did!) or that the book would keep them interested.

Ages: 3 - 6

**Like my reviews? I also have hundreds of detailed reports that I offer too. These reports give a complete break-down of everything in the book, so you'll know just how clean it is or isn't. I also have Clean Guides (downloadable PDFs) which enable you to clean up your book before reading it! Visit my website
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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. ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: picture-books
no, no, no. I can't ... even ... with this book. I consider myself a fairly musical & rhythm and beats type of person but I just didn't understand this book one bit. I even looked up a few videos on YouTube to see how I was supposed to read it out loud. the lyrics don't make sense, the beat is all over the place, and I just don't get it. zero stars if I could. sorry if it's the unpopular opinion. ...more
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Randie D. Camp, M.S.
*Note: This is not an actual biography but it is about the jazz musician Charlie Parker.

Raschka does it again! He creatively uses onomatopoeias, phrases, varied font styles, and text placement to tell a story that reads like lyrics of a jazz song. His bold illustrations add to the musical flow of the fun jazzy text.

Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was not one of my favorite books. I didn't enjoy the randomness at all, and I eventually forgot what I was reading. Chris Raschka is known for writing quirky stories, but this was something that I wouldn't read in class. However, it could be used for a thematic lesson on music, and students can discuss the different instruments in the book. ...more
Isha Barrie
This book is weird, but that's why I like it!! I feel that this book comes with some type of song to make following the eccentric pages easier to follow I just wish I knew where to find it. I can tell that it goes with a jazz themed song because of the jazz player playing the sax on the cover so it would be very interesting being read this book again with a saxophone following the words. ...more
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Chris Raschka is the illustrator of The Hello, Goodbye Window, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He is also the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Book Yo! Yes?; Charlie Parker Played Be Bop; Mysterious Thelonious; John Coltrane’s Giant Steps; Can’t Sleep; and The Magic Flute. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

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