By Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by Christopher Myers
There’s a crazy syncopation/and it’s tearing through the nation/and it’s bringing sweet elation/to every single tune. It’s Jazz. From bebop to New Orleans, from ragtime to boogie, and every style in between, this collection of Walter Dean Myers energetic and engaging poems takes readers on a musical journey from jazz’s beginnings to the present day.
Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat: Ella Fitzgerald
by Roxane Orgill, Illustrated by Sean Qualls
When Ella Fitzgerald danced the Lindy Hop on the streets of 1930s Yonkers, people passing by said goodbye to their loose change. For a girl who was orphaned and hungry, with raggedy clothes and often no place to spend the night, small change was not enough. One amateur night at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, Ella made a discovery: the dancing beat in her feet could travel up and out of her mouth in powerful song — and the feeling of being listened to was like a salve to her heart.
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
By Katheryn Russell-Brown
Illustrated by Frank Morrison
Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family’s Majestic radio. At the age of seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson, toured the country, and became famous.
By Troy Andrews, Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Hailing from the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was tall. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today he headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Before John Was a Jazz Giant:
A Song of John Coltrane
By Carol Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s. There were preachers praying, music on the radio, and the bustling sounds of the household. These vivid noises shaped John’s own sound as a musician. This picture book is a rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane.
Who Was Louis Armstrong?
By Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrated by John O’Brien
If not for a stint in reform school, young Louis Armstrong might never have become a musician. A teacher at Colored Waifs Home gave him a cornet, promoted him to band leader, and recognized talent in this tough kids from the even tougher New Orleans neighborhood of Storyville. It was Louis’s own passion and genius that pushed jazz into new and exciting realms.
This Jazz Man
By Karen Ehrhardt, Illustrated by R.G. Roth
SNAP! BOMP! BEEDLE-DI-BOP! In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional “This Old Man” gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era’s best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangeles plays two…right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking the strings that sound divine.
Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
By Patricia Hruby Powell
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Josephine Baker worked her way up from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Her powerful story is one of struggle and triumph and is an inspiration.
How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz
By Jonah Winter, Illustrated by Keith Mallett
This unusual and inventive picture book riffs on the language and rhythms of old New Orleans and turns its focus to one of America’s early jazz heroes, Jelly Roll Morton.
The book descriptions used are primarily from the publishers.