Customer Reviews: Dizzy
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  • Dizzy
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Customer Reviews

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I have read this book and studied the illustrations several times now and still have not made up my mind about "Dizzy." Why so difficult? You see, that's the problem--I don't know. Let me walk you through the story.

I love the colors: pinks, chocolates, purples, grays, blacks, pale turquoise, and burgundy. The end pages are chocolate--symbolic of the color of Dizzy Gillespie's skin, then following the new trend in children's books--beginning the illustrations before even reaching the title page. There are two angels blowing their trumpets, announcing the delivery of a new baby--little John Birks Gillespie to a man in overalls and a woman in an orange dress walking down a country road in South Carolina.

"This is the story of one real COOL cat...born very poor and very tough." Displayed against rose pink walls are three boys, one downcast and two ugly-faced. The other boys beat up John Birks, until "one day he just couldn't take it anymore...and he whooped the living tar out of some big bully." Now John is ugly-faced, too. Those rose pink walls are smeary gray and rusty pink.

"He was always mad./ You see, his dad/ was always beating on HIM...." And a big-fisted, ugly-faced man stands over a puzzled little boy. The colors are grays and browns with one wine-colored rug because---the next two pages show a boy with a trumpet given to him by his music teacher. He blasts his anger through that horn and the sound is clotted-blood-red, pink, smeary white.

He plays and plays until the pages turn pale pink and show birds and butterflies (though they are gray). Even his shadow is gray, but the music, ah, the music has turned a smooth wine red. What he learns to play is JAZZ. "Jazz was like getting in trouble--it was FUN!"

Very pale yellows and somber ochres appear in the illustrations when he takes a train to Philly and gets a job in a jazz band. But the boy, now a man, uses shenanigans on stage for attention. "He'd fall off his chair...flail around willy-nilly" against a pale turquoise background. Finally, the musicians start to call him "Dizzy" because of his behavior.

In New York Dizzy finds himself, "soaking it in, the rumble and the roar/of the A train and the brass and the saxes and the drums/ of the jazz clubs." Lavenders, purply-reds, lilacs, grays find their way in the illustrations. He starts puffing out his cheeks for attention. During breaks, up on the roof, he starts to teach other " to play 'dizzy.'" The grays and pinks and lilacs become sophisticated, as does the color of his music.

By the time his name is on the billboards his music is so smooth out of his trumpet like the color of fine aged red wine, but this music is BEBOP, "going ziddly dee-boo-dah-boo/ hiddly on his horn...."

The last image of Dizzy shows him playing his Bebop in Jazz Heaven with the angel Gabriel against pale yellows and ochres. Dizzy wears an angel's crown with a white circular halo. An Author's Note concludes the book by providing biographical and musical notes about the man called Dizzy Gillespie, followed by two chocolate pages. The back cover displays one word--Bebop designed against all the loveliest colors of the book.

This book is an introduction to one of the great jazz musicians. Despite my aversion toward the "ugly" faces, they did have a role in creating the Dizzy we know and love. I'm thinking I like this book very much. But the proof is in the pudding. Will children like it? I'm also thinking I will pair the book with a recording by Dizzy Gillespie--maybe "Night in Tunisia" in a two-for-one lesson. Dizzy and Bebop--an introduction to great jazz music. Yep, I'm thinking this is a very good book.
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on November 21, 2015
The book did not seem as new as the seller stated. The paper cover was missing and many of the pages were "dog eared".
Other than that, the story is great, my son and his grandfather love it.
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on March 1, 2016
I'm a read aloud mom with a family of boys. To address the beatings in this book - bad things, sad things happen in life. We need to develop the character, the manliness, to rise above the bad stuff. To not be crushed, but to grow up, be respectable, be responsible anyway. Life isn't fair. It isn't fair that some little boys are beaten by their fathers. It isn't fair that some musicians grow up to be world famous. Fairness has nothing to do with it. It's about character, and being willing to work hard, and overcoming problems and the circumstances of life to be successful.

Loved the comment in the endnotes: Dizzy coached many young musicians over 5 decades, he never used drugs, and he stayed married to his wife. Inspirational.

I loved the read-aloud rhythms of this book. Share this one with your family. If you need to, skip the eight pages of beatings. But don't miss the rest of the book!
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on April 16, 2015
My son and I enjoyed this story and learned things we didn't know. Afterward we looked Dizzy up on youtube and found that my son really likes his music!
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VINE VOICEon February 22, 2007
I'd recommend this book to children aged 7-10, especially a child interested in music or to those looking for a book to celebrate African Americans. Be aware of the child abuse aspect, but learning about the interesting life of Dizzy Gillespie is fun with the colorful llustrations and text of this book. You will definitely find out more about this influential musician with this book.
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on November 16, 2014
Everything was great!
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VINE VOICEon February 27, 2007
This is a picture book biography of Dizzy Gillespie. We learn that he is beaten by his father while growing up. At school he takes an interest in music and let's his anger flow through the trumpet he is learning to play. He goes on to make a name for him self. He makes his own style of music and the people love it!

At one point in the text a bunch of symbols were written and it looked like the author was wanting to write a curse word in the book but used the symbols as well. I really didn't like that at all in a picture book for young readers.

I really would look else where for a good bio on Dizzy.
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