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About the Author

Walter Dean Myers (1937 - 2014) was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He was one of the premier authors of books for children, and received numerous awards including the Michael L. Printz award and the Coretta Scott King Award.

Christopher Myers is a writer and fine artist, but he is best known for his award-winning picture books, such as the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King honor book Harlem, written by his father, and his own Black Cat, which also received a Coretta Scott King Honor Award. He lives and works in New York City.


Gr 4-9-Walter Dean Myers's fabulous book (Holiday House, 2006) is even better in this audio version. Winner of the 2008 Odyssey Award for excellence in children's audiobook production, it opens with an extensive introduction to the history of jazz, and then explodes into Christopher Meyers's lively acrylic-and-black-ink paintings of musicians on vividly colored pages. The poetry and art come alive with the beat and sass of jazz, as different styles and performers are showcased. James "D-Train" Williams and Vaneese Thomas give voice to the text with a celebration of music, poetry, and song. Rob Mathes has composed original music for each poem, which is performed by a live jazz ensemble. Williams and Thomas perform in perfect syncopation, molding each poem to the music, playing with and off each other's voices. For example, "Stride" is a poem in which two words from each long, rhyming line are repeated in contrasting colors; the poem is performed by Williams, with Thomas joining him to add the featured words as he speaks them, creating an exciting emphasis and rhythm. From a New Orleans funeral celebration to be-bop and bluesy torch songs, they perform each piece with a distinctive jazz flavor, without allowing the music to overshadow the poetry. They also take turns reading the introduction, glossary, and timeline, so that the CD becomes a complete performance of the book that can stand on its own. This outstanding package immerses students in the art and history of this capricious and mesmerizing musical form.-MaryAnn Karre, Horace Mann Elementary School, Binghamton, NY Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

The father-and-son team behind blues journey creates a scintillating paean to jazz. Walter Dean Myers infuses his lines (and the rests between them) with so much savvy syncopation that readers can't help but be swept up in the rhythms. "Stride," for example, narrated by a piano man, captures the spirit of a "band on fire." On a delphinium-purple page, below each line of white type ("I got jump in my feet, and I'm turning up the heat, left hand hauling"), two significant words from that line dance in black script ("jump"/ "feet"), functioning like the chords a jazz pianist uses as percussive punctuation within a tune. Visually, the page's typography evokes long white and short black piano keys. Christopher Myers lays black-inked acetate over brilliant, saturated acrylics. The resulting chiaroscuro conjures the deep shadows and lurid reflections of low-lit after-dark jazz clubs. The artist dynamically enlarges key compositional elements: a massive bass, a long ago drummer's muscular back, and fingers-poised over keys, plucking strings, splayed along a flute. Design sings here, too: Louis Armstrong's spread upends, befitting that jazz giant. A cogent introduction, selective glossary and chronology round out this mesmerizing verbal and visual riff on a uniquely American art form. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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