Nominated for the 43rd Annual NAACP Image Awards in the category "Outstanding Literary Work - Children."
Acoustic Rooster hopes to win the Barnyard Talent Show. But first he needs a band. Turned away by Thelonius Monkey, Mules Davis, and Ella Finchgerald, he starts his own jazz band with Duck Ellington, Bee Holiday, and Poncho Ernesto Cruz. Focusing on the performers, anthropomorphic animals who bear resemblance to the real-life musicians in small details (Duck’s top hat, Bee’s flower in her hair), Bowers’ illustrations cleverly fade everything outside of the spotlight to shades of gray. Rooster cries when he comes in second to Mules Davis, but he heads proudly back to the coop when he garners the trumpeter’s praise. Although the jazz allusions (explained in an afterword) will fly right over young readers’ heads, kids will enjoy the notion of the contest. Despite some clunky rhythms, this may be a hit for storytime, accompanied by the real-deal music. Pair this up with Chris Raschka’s Mysterious Thelonious (1997) and Andrea Davis Pinkney’s Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (1998) and Ella Fitzgerald: Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa (2002) . Grades 1-3. --Patricia Austin