Christy's Reviews > Jazz

Jazz by Walter Dean Myers
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Feb 03, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: k-3-picture-books
Read in February, 2009

Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers won the 2007 Coretta Scott King Honor. This beautifully written and illustrated book promotes an appreciation of jazz and the African-American culture. Jazz is both informative and entertaining. It pays tribute to the history and unknown complexity of this American art form. Because of this, Jazz meets the Coretta Scott King Honor criteria.
Honored as a Notable Book of the English Language Arts (BELA) in 2007, Walter Dean Myers masterfully tells the story of jazz through 15 poems. The (BELA) award is given to books that demonstrate uniqueness in the use of language and style. Myers skillfully uses rhythm and rhyme throughout the book and engages readers with each poem. The musical images reinforce the sounds heard as one reads. Children are invited to respond and participate with the text. For these reasons, Jazz qualifies for the (BELA) award.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jazz and can see many instructional uses for this outstanding piece of children’s literature. The introduction and timeline in the back of the book provide historical information about the genre. I was surprised to learn as much as I did. For example, I did not know that jazz relies so much on improvisation. Jazz musicians often begin with a familiar song and create something new using their “own personality and musical training.” According to the introduction, many early jazz musicians from the slave states played by “ear” because they had been forbidden to learn to read and write. Clearly Jazz informs and captivates readers at the same time. Jazz lends itself to a multitude of lessons including poetry, music, history and cultural understanding.
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