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This innovative visual deconstruction of one of jazz saxophonist Coltrane's most beloved compositions may be Raschka's (Mysterious Thelonious) most ambitious picture book yet. After a playful introduction ("Good evening. And thank you for coming to our book"), the unseen narratorconductor introduces the performers a box, a snowflake, some raindrops and a kitten a tongue-in-cheek nod to Coltrane's version of "My Favorite Things"). The book does not require previous awareness of the jazz great's work, however. Each performer (representing percussion, bass, piano and sax) appears in a different color and shape (Raschka riffs on primary red, yellow and blue, and the basic square, triangle and circle). The performance begins, only to be interrupted when the kitten ("the melody on top of everything") takes steps a little too large ("People, people! What happened?"). Some coaching finally produces what Coltrane called "sheets of sound." Raschka's transparent watercolors layer colors and shapes the way a musician would notes and harmonies. Stunningly simple, the concept provides a compelling introduction to Coltrane's genius. Those who possess a little musical knowledge will delight in such arch references as "remixed by Chris Raschka" on the title page and the conductor's hilarious critique ("First of all, raindrops, you were rushing on page 19"). Even the jacket repeats the book's central conceit: a clear plastic wrap featuring the kitten, painted in thick black outline, overlays the other elements. A must for jazz enthusiasts and, for first-timers, a clever introduction to this wildly creative musical genre. Ages 4-7.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
PreSchool-Grade 5-Paw forward, the cat featured in Raschka's Simple Gifts (Holt, 1998) graces the clear cellophane jacket of this book. Her thick, black, inked contours overlay the watercolor, biomorphic forms on the book's front cover-a box, snowflake, and raindrop-the performers of Coltrane's jazz classic "Giant Steps." An offstage narrator/conductor prepares listeners for "swirling, leaping, tumbling 'sheets of sound.'" In the ensuing double spreads, the 4/4 tempo is introduced by a quartet of raindrops (drums); the foundation is then formed with an overlay of boxes (the bass). Snowflakes (the piano) build up next to represent harmony, and, at last, the kitten (sax) dances across the shapes, bringing the melody. The conductor, however, is not pleased, so after some comments, the piece is played again, winding down to a quiet curtain call of the four isolated images. The sequential design and layering of the organic forms are a creative, joyful, and energetic match for the pulsing momentum and resolution in the music. Raschka manages to distill body and soul and "remix" Coltrane's sound graphically, and the book offers an engaging intellectual and sensory experience. Presenting it with the music itself is a must. Bravo, maestro!-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This book is essential for expanding perception. I've met adults who could benefit from this book.Published 11 months ago by Derek Burrell
I stumbled upon John Coltrane's Giant Steps in my local library. It offered so much more than I expected in a children's book! Read morePublished 20 months ago by Monika
I enjoyed reading the book and I think the drawings and the writing are excellent. It was very inspiring to me. No adults had influence on me reading this book. Read morePublished on August 11, 2008
I was terribly disappointed by this children's book. The problem I have with it is that it is way too abstract for a young mind to grasp. Read morePublished on January 14, 2008 by Enrique Torres
Chris Raschka has to be one of my favorite illustrators. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, Yo! Yes?, a Caldecott Honoree, and Arlene Sardine are some of my favorite picture books of... Read morePublished on July 21, 2005 by R, your friendly neighborhood reviewer
I love this book because you can "hear" Chris Raschka's enthusiasm to share the extraordinary sound of Coltrane with readers. Read morePublished on May 2, 2005 by MovedbyMusic
I read the other reviews and was very excited. We are big fans of "The Jazz Fly" and jazz in general. This was very disappointing.Published on August 16, 2004 by Mommy of 2 Boys
"Good evening. And thank you for coming to our book. We have something very special for you tonight. Read morePublished on October 23, 2002 by Roz Levine