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Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 1090L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (April 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805079947
  • ASIN: B004A14WCC
  • Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 8 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Weatherford’s evocative poem traces Coltrane’s influences simply and stunningly. Qualls’s muted palette of rich hues suggests the smoky jazz moods he would create.”

School Library Journal

 

“Even children who are unfamiliar with jazz in general and John Coltrane in particular may find their interest piqued.”

Horn Book

 

“Will echo with contemporary children, who will recognize the music in their daily lives.”

Booklist

 

“This is as much a subtle invitation for children to listen to their own worlds as it is a Coltrane biography.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

About the Author

CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD wrote the Caldecott Honor book Moses: When Harriet Tubman Lead Her People to Freedom. She lives in North Carolina.

SEAN QUALLS illustrated the widely acclaimed biographies The Poet Slave of Cuba and Dizzy. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

 


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Customer Reviews

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See all 10 customer reviews
I recommend this book for at home as well as in the classroom.
Lisa Marie
Sean Qualls's soulful and thoughtful artwork, especially the wide-eyed depiction of Coltrane as a boy, brings a lot to the poetic tale.
D. Fowler
The boy, John, listened to all the sounds of his childhood, influencing him in his music.
sandrak

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on April 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Picture books about jazz are the oddest little critters, aren't they? There are a surprising number of them, first of all. Sometimes I think that all the rock and roll, blues, and opera picture books combined can't compare in number to the sheer amounts of jazz-related texts that cross library doorsteps every year. Much of this, I suspect, has much to do with illustrators feeling a kinship with that particular style of music. If jazz is an improvisational art, then it must burn in the bones of many an illustrator to bring that very concept to life. So it is that Chris Raschka comes out with his Charlie Parker Played Be Bop and Mysterious Thelonious titles while Walter Dean Myers and his son extol the multiple virtues of Jazz itself. Sean Qualls has always taken a bent that I find more practical. First he illustrated Jonah Winter's great picture book biography of Dizzy Gillespie Dizzy and now, with author Carole Boston Weatherford by his side, he has John Coltrane dead in his sights. "Before John was a Jazz Giant" won't answer any child's questions about what jazz is or why John Coltrane is important. At its core, it's just a simple story of a boy growing to love music and how that affects him later when he's an adult. And in a sense, that's a concept for a jazz picture book that really makes a lot of sense.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
When John Coltrane was a boy and way before he became famous he heard musical sounds coming from his own house. He listened to "hambones knocking in Grandma's pots, Daddy strumming the ukelele, and Mama cranking the phonograph." These weren't jazz sounds, but may well have been the kinds of sounds that John later tuned into those tunes that made him a jazz giant. Sounds whirled around him and he listened.

"Before John was a jazz giant,
he heard big bands on the radio
and a saxophone's soulful solo,
blue notes crooning his name."

Sean Qualls's soulful and thoughtful artwork, especially the wide-eyed depiction of Coltrane as a boy, brings a lot to the poetic tale. In the back, under the Author's Note, there is a clear, concise mini biography of John Coltrane, a revolutionary jazz composer and saxophonist. There are additional musical and book recommendations. A combination lesson of `listen and learn' after reading this book would be a fun classroom activity!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten G. Cutler on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This delightful picture book lyrically suggests how John Coltrane absorbed sounds that he later incorporated into his music, "Before John was a jazz giant, he heard hambones knocking in Grandma's pots, Daddy strumming the ukulele and Mama cranking the phonograph." Lovely acrylic, collage and pencil artwork illuminate the charming text. One awesome picture shows John as a young boy listening to "blue notes crooning his name" as a man plays a saxophone in the foreground and a band appears spotlighted behind the soloist. The illustrations pulse with movement: sounds soar out of instruments in wavy color swaths or musical notations and people dance. This appealing treat is a feast for the eyes and ears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Noeth on November 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Greatness just appears - or so it seems... An awe-struck world may stop in disbelief at the existence of a genius. However, the genius knows. Stopping is the last thing one should ever do.

Always moving, geniuses do not just pop out of thin air. They study, and they learn; they create themselves. The world is full of mundane things. Kitchen pots clang. Trains whistle. People laugh, and they cry. Beauty is difficult to hear. However, the genius is "all ears."

Open this book. Pulsing brilliance will pour forth - filling your world, your breath. Alliteration, rhythm, and illustration unite into mastery. You will hear and see music.

Art does travel a long way. Suddenly though, it appears, and the ordinary becomes a greatness never heard before. Look. Listen. John Coltrane is alive.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Cummins on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
John Coltrane's life was defined by his jazz music. He was one of the greatest jazz musicians in music history. The author, Carole Boston Weatherford, presents the influences that were incorporated into Mr. Coltrone's jazz music. Family was the center piece to Mr. Colton's musical career. The beautiful illustrations created by Sean Qualls capture the cool jazz theme running throughout the story. Young readers to middle schoolers will gain a background understanding of one of jazz music's giants, John Coltrane.
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