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Mysterious Thelonious Hardcover – October 1, 2003


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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Live Oak Media (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591124220
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591124221
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 7.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,829,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Vibe, rhythm, beat! There have been many tributes to the great jazz composer and performer Thelonius Monk, but none so arresting and surround-sound-appealing as this small, unassuming book. If you're looking for verbose or technical explanations of Monk's music, look elsewhere. Here, you'll find nothing but pure, punchy music. Scant words jump and dance over pages that bear greater resemblance to musical staffs than still places for text to sit idly. Chris Raschka, creator of Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, uses beautiful watercolors to splash and adorn the pages' multi-boxed backgrounds in a smooth, harmonic pattern based on the tones of the chromatic scale. A groovy piano makes the occasional appearance, along with the slouchy, jivin', slumpy, jammin' image of Monk doing what he did best. Do not read this book--instead, sing it, swing it, and sway to its infectious music. (Ages 4 and up) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5?In this brilliantly conceived tribute to the jazz composer and musician, Raschka has captured the music and the man in a picture book as original as Monk himself. Using the provocative "Misterioso" as his inspiration, Raschka set his words to the melody and let them fall on the page just as they would if you were listening to the music. But his "notes" are the 12 values on the color wheel matched to the corresponding 12 tones on the chromatic scale. He begins with a nearly all-white page, the colors running up one side, the page lined with a grid that will gradually be filled in by bands and squares of jewel-like watercolor as well as the lyrical text. The oh-so-hip Monk is also hanging out, sometimes crouched over his piano, sometimes holding a word, sometimes dancing or leaping much as his music does. The genius of Monk was that his notes often defied convention, stretching what was acceptable even to his fellow jazz musicians. "Wrong" notes surprised listeners and created angular melodies like no other composer's. But, as the hand-lettered text states, "He played not one wrong note, not one....He played the music of freedom. Jazz is the music of freedom." The genius of Raschka is that he has been able to translate that music into a book like no other, introducing it to young listeners and confirming its brilliance to adults already familiar with it. Like Monk, he is a master of making extraordinarily complex concepts seem simple No one should be deprived of this gem.?Karen Breen, Library Power, New York City
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 7, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The author/illustrator has found a clever way to combine the illustration and text, as if to portray the sound of Thelonious Monk's music. I read this to a third grade music class. The students commented that the words were placed on the page like notes on a music staff. They also noticed that the size of the words changed throughout the book, perhaps suggesting the dynamics in his music. Although the book doesn't share specific factual information about Thelonious Monk, it is fun to read. I would recommend it for all students and music lovers alike. As a music teacher, I really enjoyed this book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 3, 1998
Format: Hardcover
There is nothing Misterioso about Chris Raschka's story about Thelonious Monk, Mysterious Thelonious. Just as there were "no wrong notes on Monk's piano, there are no wrong words in this marvelously creative book by Chris Raschka. Inspiried by the first jazzman to cultivate a goatee and by Monk's composition, 'Misterioso', Raschka has approached this picture-book from a right angle, similar to how Monk titled his head as he 'crushed' out his muisc on the piano. Words, music, and color run up-and-down the pages like Monk's enormous hands, hitting al 12 keys at once. Young readers will enjoy the challenge of trying to decode the phonetic-like presentation of words that reverberate page-by-page across colorful grids reminiscent of a Paul Klee drawing. Seasoned jazz lovers (like me) will marvel at how Raschka has caught the musical magic of Thelonious Sphere Monk as he might have 'sounded with words and a brush' jamming with Charlie (Yardbird) Parker at Minton's Playhouse (New York) in 1937. I have used this book many times to show teachers the power of interactive read-alouds to create higher levels of understanding. With black shades on and Monk's music playing in the background, children delight in a unique demonstration of how language, art, color, and hyphenated text work together to tell a wonderful story about the music of freedom....Jazz. Tr- ue to h- is rep- u- tation, Ra- sch- ka u- ses o- nly a fe- w w- ords, b- ut s- ays a lo- t!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kath K on October 4, 2002
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
I was skeptical about this when I picked it up from the library. My 6 and 3 year olds absolutely loved it. The way the words were scattered over the page made it impossible not to read it rhythmically! We read it months ago, and still, every time someone says the word "mysterious," they start chanting the words of the book. Raschka has done it again!
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Format: Hardcover
Chris Raschka is the absolute master of high-concept. His abstract conceptions would seema perfect match for the perfect dissonance of Thenonious Monk, another artist who mastered the abstract and the unconventional...who merged sound and sight in his own iconoclastic fashion. One of Monk's first albums is "Brilliant Corners," and you can hear those cuts and angles throughout.

Raschka is brilliant in his imaginative construction of this CD/book combination, but the dilemma is whether this is a book for kids or adults. It's so mathematical, richly visual, and simultaneously linear and non-linear that it's a challenging read at almost every age.

Here's the concept: Arrange adjoining squares that cover the page from toip to bottom, and left to right...like a checkerboard. IN the vertical dimension (i.e., down the page from top to bottom) the boxes represent the eight descending notes (do, re, me, anyone?) of the Western scale, and scanning from left to right is how we read both books and music. Raschka made up a very Monkian (to my mind) lyric to the tune "Mysterioso," and places each word in a square that follows the music, both vertically (do, re, mi), and horizontally--following the melody of the song. As they say, it's easy once you learn it.

FOrtunately, Mr. Raschka is a kind teacher, and he includes the singing of his lyric on the CD. ONe follows the song, matching the words and their high/low sound to the words spread higher and low, left to right, on the page. The first track is done very slowly, mkaing it fairly easy to follow (after a few tries); the second time matches the actual tempo of the "Mysterioso" excerpt.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By wordtron on February 6, 2002
Format: Library Binding
One wouldn't think it possible, but Raschka has recreated Monk's "Misterioso" into a beautiful synthesis of color and word by matching the 12 musical notes of the chromatic scale to the 12 values of the color wheel, and repeating word phrases with slight variations, as with Monk's playing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bardolph on May 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well, as a Monk fan, I had to snatch this up from my library for-sale rack for $1, and as I was reading it, I was very pleased with myself when I realized that the book is meant to be read to the tune of "Mysterioso." The arrangement of the words on the page correspond directly with the melody. I think whenever I have a child, I will sing this book to her.

2 and a half years later... I read/sang this to my 22 month-old son last night, and he made me read it 3 more times. It probably helps if your kid likes Thelonious Monk and you can sing the tune (a bit of a challenge a capella, especially bars 9 and 10).
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