[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Candlewick
Formats: Hardcover
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble[/alert]

This book, while marketed for children, seems more of an objet d’art than a book for young readers. Upon first glance, you can tell that this is not an ordinary children’s book: it has a smooth cover with a magnetic closure, almost abstract chalk pastel illustrations, and the pages unfold into one long page that reads front and back.

The book’s subject matter is also not typical for a children’s book: the book details, albeit abstractly, how Charlie Parker (“Bird”) and Dizzy Gillespie make music together. The book charts their course as they play a song, improvising wildly on their instruments and passing the music back and forth between them.

In order for a child to really get the full impact of the book, you would almost have to play “Salt Peanuts” or another Parker/Gillespie tune while you read the book to them. If you’re familiar with the music that Bird and Diz played together, it all makes sense: the wild swirls of color, the scatting and onomatopoeia, and the way the book unfolds into one long page with continuous pastel waves flowing from one page to the next, like the music does.

It’s a beautiful evocation of jazz music, but it would almost work better as an art book for an adult jazz lover than as a story for children. Plus, the pages being just one long page makes them easier to rip, so parents and teachers should make sure the book isn’t manhandled by young readers. But the art style and the unique presentation make this book worth checking out for lovers of art and jazz.

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