From Publishers Weekly
Some false notes won't keep most kids from enjoying Isadora's (Ben's Trumpet) tribute to the jazz that filled the streets of 1930s Harlem. Rather uninspired rhymed couplets make up the text: "Bring on that beat,/ Wake up the street./ Saxophone jive,/ keep us alive." Yet the visuals succeed in bringing the era to life. Full-spread black-and-white oil paintings depict a humming Harlem whose residents are seen either making or enjoying music. Small, electric-hued watercolor designs, laid over these scenes with the use of a computer, represent the tunes emanating from a variety of instruments played from stoop and rooftop. Though younger readers may have trouble making the connection between musical strains and these multicolored freeform shapes, the vivid splashes jazz up the otherwise muted graphics and express the energy that emanates from the music. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In this exuberant celebration of jazz, black endpapers usher readers into a quiet city neighborhood, in Harlem in the '30s, where a trio emerges from a jazz hall to "Wake up the street" with a jam session under the lights. People begin to peek out of shops and gather around the stoop where the musicians "Bring on that beat." Children and adults alike begin to swing and before long, the music moves up to the roof. More people join in, leaning out of windows, congregating on the fire escape, and dancing on the rooftop. Isadora's black-and-white spreads suggest a bygone era when boys wore knickers and cars looked very different. The art is executed in oil and overlaid with computer-generated watercolor splashes of Klee- and Kandinsky-like designs that simulate the sounds. Even the buildings seem to sway to the beat. One interesting spread depicts children in yellow-orange-red silhouette dancing on piano keys that extend from the buildings as the Man in the Moon, with the face of Duke Ellington, looks on. While the rhyming text, which appears in large negative type on a black background, is minimal, its constant urging to "bring on that beat" and its jazz rhythm works powerfully with the illustrations to evoke the excitement and swelling of the music from a quiet corner to a building to the whole city. Pair this offering with Chris Raschka's Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (Orchard, 1992) and Isadora's Ben's Trumpet (Greenwillow, 1979) for a swinging good time.
Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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