Monday, May 23, 2016

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: The Inker's Shadow by Allen Say

In Drawing from Memory, children's author/illustrator Allen Say chronicles his life in Japan.  Born in Yokohama in 1937 to a Japanese American mother and Korean father, all Say wanted to be was an artist.  In 1941, he fled to the countryside with his mother to escape the bombing of Yokohama,  His parents divorced when Say was 8, and, after the war, at age 12, he was given his own apartment so he could attend school.  But when he read an article about master cartoonist Noro Shinpei, Say walked 350 miles to apprentice with him.  All the while, Say had to deal with his father's vehement rejection at the idea of his becoming an artist.

The Inker's Shadow picks up where Drawing from Memory leaves off.  At 15, Say decides to go to America to become an artist.  He arrives in California in 1953 along with his father and his father's new family.  Met at the dock by his father's friend, Major Bill, Say is immediately taken to a military academy, where he is expected to be a cadet and work off his tuition.

Lacking any real friends, Say is accompanied by his cartoon double, Kyusuke, the character Noro Shinpei based on him during his apprenticeship.  Say inked a lot of Kyusuke's comic adventures, which had always caused him to be jealous of the cartoon figure's adventures.

And now, the work at the academy is hard, leaving Say no real time for art.  And to make things even harder, the other employees of the academy take advantage of Say's youth and naiveté, to the point of teaching him to drive without a permit and little ability to read English yet.  But after Say buys a $50 car that needs to be constantly filled with gas, he decides to set off on his own adventure one night, heading for New York to become an artist there.  But when his car runs out of gas, Say must ultimately return to the academy.

His angry father is waiting for him as he returns, and tells him that Major Bill and his wife did not feel Say would "make a wholesome American" and he had one week to find a new place to live.  Say left 15 minutes later.

Say checked into a run-down hotel, getting a room for $8.50 a week.  It was dumpy and Say didn't always have money for food, but once he was away from his father, Major Bill and the academy, he could finally pursue his dream of being an artist.

Now, completely on his own, Say manages to get himself enrolled in a public high school, where he meets adults who take an interest in his art and where he is given scholarships for art classes.   Of course, being Japanese, Say also runs into a lot of post-war prejudice towards Japan and its people, especially by people who had lost loved ones in the Pacific Theater.

Still, Say's drive and determination to be an artist never wavered, no matter how hard things became. Luckily, some of the adults in his life did see his potential and helped him achieve his dream. The Inker's Shadow goes only as far as Say's high school graduation, and, just as he did in Drawing from Memory, Say looks at his life with honesty, humor and plenty of poignant moments, such as being taken out to buy a suit by his art teacher and being asked to his high school prom.

It is, of course, a picture book for older readers, mixing text, illustrations, cartoons and graphics to tell the story of Say's assimilation into American culture and language and giving the reader a new look at the immigration experience during what were still volatile times in this country.

The Inker's Shadow is a nice stand alone memoir that will offer young readers with a dream hope and importation, or pair it with Drawing from Memory.  Either way, it is an inspiring story, and I kind of hope we will get a third installment of Say's life immediately after high school graduation.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was sent to me by the publisher, Scholastic Press


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

When her mother Mei-Mei was alive, she would often make up stories for her daughter, Soledad Madrid, now 12.  Younger sister Dominga, or Ming, now 6, was too young to remember her mother who died shortly after their older sister Amelia drowned.  And it didn't take long for their father remarry, and for all of them to immigrate from the Philippines to a small town in southern Louisiana, including the ghost (?) of Amelia.  Amelia often offers Sol helpful advice about staying on the truthful side of things.  But when their father returned to the Philippines without them, Sol and Ming were left in the care of their very cruel and abusive stepmother Vea.

To help her sister cope with their unhappy life, Sol makes up stories, her own or embellishing the ones she remembers their mother telling her.  One of those stories was about their mother's made-up legendary sister Auntie Jove, a beautiful, clever world traveller/adventurer. Ming decides to write to her in the Philippines, in the hope of being rescued from Vea's evil clutches.  She tells Sol that she has received a response and Auntie Jove will be arriving on June 3rd.

While Ming escapes into the idea that Auntie Jove will be coming to rescue them, an idea she believes wholeheartedly, even to the point of packing her suitcase, Sol finds refuge in her best friend Manny, who is Mexican, and a new friend, wealthy Caroline. Caroline is an albino who is the outcast in her family and a girl they had formerly bullied, calling her Casper and even causing her to need stitches after Sol threw a pinecone at her.  But Sol also begins to realize that her little sister is in deep trouble.  Already feeling some guilt about Amelia's death, Sol decides to build her little sister a tree house after Ming tells her about the tree house at school that she hid in during recess.  It is Sol's hope that she can use for refuge from Vea when she needs to,

Sol is more than just a spunky protagonist, she has a strong, independent spirit, and deep down, despite the lying, stealing and bullying she indulges in, she does know right from wrong, and sometimes wrong can also become a survival strategy.  And though she sees the truth of the circumstances she and Ming are caught in,  she is still a child herself, and so she doesn't always have the means to effect change.  Luckily, she meets people who can help her.

Sol. Manny and Caroline decide to sneak into the junkyard to find material for the tree house, but when the junkyard owner discovers them, Sol get caught.  Not surprisingly, she and the junkyard owner reach an accord, from which springs a friendship.

The same thing happens with their silent neighbor, Mrs. Yeung, who may not be able to speak English but who is completely capable of understanding the cruelty that is going on behind the Madrid's closed door and who isn't afraid of Vea.

But sometimes, just when things seem to be at their worst and circumstances looked so hopeless, hope may just be on the horizon.

Reality and fantasy, truth and fiction are at the heart of The Land of Forgotten Girls.  In fact, the title comes from a story that Sol makes up for Ming, about two princesses.   For Sol, navigating between imaginary stories and reality is a life-saving coping mechanism, but for Ming, it is a danger as she slips more and more into the imaginary and depression, and less in reality.

Vea is a character you won't soon forget.  She's an angry, sadistic woman, who knows that she will never hurt Sol to the extent that she would like to, but that Ming is easy prey for her.  She also knows that the older sister's protectiveness towards her little sister is the way to hurt Sol.  But she misjudges Sol's strength and determination that she and Ming will survive Vea however they can.

The Land of Forgotten Girls is a coming-of-age story about the difficulties of the immigrant experience, of feeling invisible to the world and never fitting in, of always being on the outside and no one caring what happens to you.  Some of the themes touched on are loss betrayal, sister relationships, friendships, child abuse, racism, and hope.

In the end, though, I wish Kelly had included more about being Filipino in an adopted country, the way she had in Blackbird Fly, her debut novel.  And I wish the ending had been for definitive.  But I would still recommend this novel to young readers.

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: A Picture Book Roundup

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time to remember and celebrate the history and contributions that Asians and Pacific Islanders have made to the country.  This year, I decided to look at books that were written by authors who have either immigrated to the United States themselves, or whose parents or grandparents did.  Some of my choices may be familiar, some may not be so well known, all are excellent books for young readers.

Grandfather's Journey written and illustrated by Allen Say
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993, 32 pages, Age 5+

Allen Say tells how his grandfather left Japan to see the world, exploring the cities and countryside of the United States, falling in love with the California coast.  Returning to Japan, he married and brought his wife to San Francisco, where they lived and raised a daughter.  But homesickness drove his grandfather back to Japan to live.  Once there, however, he began to miss America, though he never returned to his adopted country.  Say has captured the pull of one's birth culture and one's adopted culture beautifully in the tribute to his grandfather, in both text and his tenderly realistic watercolor illustrations.

A Teacher's Guide is available from Scholastic

My Chinatown: One Year in Poems written and illustrated by Kam Mak
HarperCollins, 2001, 32 pages, Age 4+

In almost photographically realistic oil paintings, My Chinatown is the story of one young boy's adjustment to living in his new city and country.  Missing everything familiar about his home in Hong Kong, the young narrator, who is now living in Chinatown in New York City, slowly adjusts to his new life over the course of a year, eventually finding pleasure in his new surroundings.  The poems are divided up into the four seasons, and each includes information about customs and traditions, for example, the New Year celebrations in winter, the Dragon Boat Festival in Queens, in summer and the Lunar Festival in the fall.

Mei-Mei's Lucky Birthday Noodles: A Loving Story of
Adoption, Chinese Culture, and a Special Birthday Treat
by Shan-Shan Chin, illustrated by Heidi Goodman
Tuttle Publishing, 2014, 32 pages, Age 4+

It's Mei-Mei's sixth birthday and she is really excited.  Her birthday also happens to be the day her mom and dad brought her home from China to be a family - so it is a double celebration.  After getting dressed in her new red for luck dress, she's reading to help her mom make the good luck noodles.  Good luck noodles symbolize a long and happy life in Chinese culture.  After helping mom, Mei-Mei's friends and family come for her party, bringing red envelopes filled with money, another Chinese tradition, before sitting down to eat their delicious good luck noodles.  This is a really nice story about adoption and the interesting thing is that the reader never finds out the race of the parents who adopted Mei-Mei.  The illustrations are bright and cheerful, matching the happy mood of the story.

Dim Sum for Everyone! written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Dragonfly Books, 2003, 32 pages, Age 3+

A young narrator introduces readers to the Chinese tradition of Dim Sum, small dishes of food eaten with chopsticks.  Lin captures the custom of a family sitting at a large round table in a restaurant and the ladies who come around pushing trolleys each on full of a different dish.  Why such a large table?To accommodate all the little dishes.  Lin's colorful illustrations are whimsical, yet capture the sharing spirit behind a Dim Sum meal.  She has included a detail explanation of the history and customs attached to eating Dim Sum.  This is an ideal book for anyone trying to introduce their kids to trying something new.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia, art by Ken Min
Lee & Low Books, 2011, 32 pages, Age 7+

Aneel's grandparents are visiting from India and he just loves hearing the stories his Dada-ji tells him. When his grandfather tells him about how about the wonderful roti his Badi-ma used to make and how it made his so strong, Aneel decides to make him some just like his mother had so long ago. But no one wants to help.  As he mixes up the ingredients, his family gathers around and Badi-ma helps Aneel cook the roti.  But will it have the same strengthening power as in the past.  This is a wonderful intergenerational story about family even as it introduces kids to Asian Indian culture.  The illustrations are done in acrylic and color pencil and reflect the playfulness of the story.

A Teacher's Guide is available for download from Lee & Low.

Halmoni and the Picnic by Sook Nyul Choi, illustrated by Karen Dugan
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993, 32 pages, Age 4+

Everyday Yummi and her grandmother walk to school together, and even though her friends always greet her Halmoni, she never says anything to them.  When a class trip is planned, Halmoni agrees to be a chaperone, but when she starts making kimbap and barley tea for all the kids, Yummi worries about how her classmates will react to it.  Will they like it?  Luckily, her teacher knows just what to do.  Another nice intergenerational story highlighting the difficulties of adjusting to a new county and new customs.  The colorful, realistic illustrations done in pencil and watercolor capture the Korean section of Manhattan beautifully and are bordered in Korean- inspired textual designs.  

A Teacher's Guide is available to download for this book.  

Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008, 32 pages, Age 4+

Told all in the kind of rhyme that reminds the reader of playground chants, a hungry young Korean girls helps her mother buy the groceries needed to make this traditional dish, a favorite of hers.  At home, she helps, sort of, in the preparation of the Bee-bim Bop, getting hungrier and hungrier as she and her mother work.  Finally, it is time to sit down and eat, even the dog, who has helped clean up spills all along, has a bowl full.  This is the kind of story that will make you recall your own mother's everyday meal that you remember as being so special and probably was.  The rhyme is sweet and bouncy, and the illustrations depict every step of the meal preparations.  A great book to choose for when your young readers are ready to help in the kitchen.  Best of all - there is a recipe at the end for making your own Bee-bim Bop and boy, does it sound delicious.

Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan, illustrated by Lillian Hsu-Flanders
Little Brown Books, 1998, 32 pages, Age 5+

The night before New Year's Eve, 7 year-old Marissa'a aunties, her grandma and mom get together at her home on Oahu, Hawaii to start preparing the filling for the dumplings that will make their traditional dumpling soup.  Everyone brings their own cutting board and knives, so they can all work, gossiping and chapping, all except Marissa.  But Grandma promises that the next day she can help wrap the dumplings.  Marissa is so excited, except she dumplings are lumpy, not perfect like her aunt's or her mom's.  But her family assures Marissa that her dumpling taste just as good as all the others.  This is a very nice story about a very diverse family - including Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian, and haolo.  Her grandmother calls the family chop suey meaning all mixed up, making it "more spicy." There is an nice glossary in the front of the book, defining terms in English, Hawaiian, Korean, and Japanese.  If you've never eaten dumpling soup, you are in for a treat.  And you can find the recipe on Jama Kim Rattigan's website HERE

Journey Home by Lawrence McKay, Jr., illustrated by Dom and Keunhee Lee
Lee & Low Books, 1998, 32 pages, Age 6+

Mai, 10, is excited but nervous about traveling to Vietnam with her mom.  Her mom had been born there, but given up for adoption during the Vietnam War.  Now, she wants to try and find out who she really is and who were her birth parents.  The only clue she has is a hand made kite and a photo taken at the orphanage with the kite.  After a few days of searching, Mai and her mom are feeling rather discouraged until they spot a man selling hand made kites.  Could he possibly hold the key that will unlock the door to finding her mother's parents?  The beautifully expressive and unusually colored illustrations really reflect the different moods in the story, perhaps because of the way they were done: by "applying encaustic beeswax on paper, then scratching out the images, and finally adding oil paint and colored pencil."  

A Teacher's Guide is available to download from Lee & Low

This was a very interesting post to do and it made me aware of a number of things which I plan on sharing after I have posted about all the books used of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Meanwhile, you can find a rich source of teaching resources at the Smithsonian Education website HERE

Monday, May 16, 2016

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is the original weekly meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey, but is now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date It's Monday! What are you reading? - from Picture Books to YA is a kidlit focused meme just like the original and is hosted weekly by Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee at Unleashing Readers .  The purpose is the same: to recap what you have read and/or reviewed and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. Twitter for #IMWAYR

I've been down for the count the last few days, recovering from a minor medical procedure, so I haven't been reading as much as usual.  I did participate in Armchair BEA for the first two days and I also posted about one of my favorite books so far this year, which is 

and illustrated by Francis Vallejo

This is a book of 33 poems describing one summer morning when jazz musicians showed up for a photograph on the steps of a Harlem brownstone in New York City and it is written from various perspectives, including the musicians and some of the neighborhood kids who were there. 

I've also been reading some books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.  I've been trying to find books written by authors who either come from or are the children of parents or grandparents from Asia and the Pacific Islands and are about their heritage.  It isn't easy, but I found some.  I hope to start posting about them soon (before the month is over).  

My TBR stacks seem to grow higher and higher by the day - good thing I didn't go to BEA this year. Even so,  I was lucky enough to receive copies of the following books which I will be reading and reviewing soon:

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, 
illustrated by Yuyi Morales

Roy's House by Susan Goldman Rubin, 
art by Roy Lichtenstein
Are We There Yet? written and illustrated by Dan Santat

The Airport Book written and illustrated by Lisa Brown

I also have a few middle grade novels to read soon:

1- Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
2- The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly
3- The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

I can't wait to get started.

What are you reading this week?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Armchair BEA 2016: Day 2 Aesthetic Concerns - Books and Blogs

Today is day 2 of Armchair BEA and the topic is aesthetic concerns.

All about the books:

1- How often do you judge a book by its cover?

Now that I've been asked this question, I realize that I do it much more than I thought.  I love illustrations and something the cover is all the illustration there is.  I have to confess, however, that I have been known to order a book from Book Depository because I like the British cover more than the American cover.

2- How often are you surprised by what you find? 

I'm not often surprised but when I am, I'm really surprised.  Sometimes a book will have a really wonderful cover, glowing reviews and I am not able to get into the story no matter how often I try. The latest book this happened with is Anna and the Swallow Man.  It has an aesthetically intriguing cover, outstanding reviews and it just fall flat for me.  I put it away to try again later.

3- Do you strategize and make sure every book in your series has the same cover design (as far as you are able to and type?

I'm a little on the OCD side so you know the answer to this is going to be yes,  A few cases in point are the Harry Potter series,  the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley and  the Maggie Hope Mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal

4- How important is it for the visual art on the outside of a book to match or coordinate with the literature art on the inside?

There is nothing more disappointing then beautiful cover art and a terrible story, whether it's a picture book, middle grade, YA or adult book.  The cover should be visually interesting so that it says something about the story.  The cover, after all, is the first thing that pulls you into the story.

All about the blog:

As a book blogger, in whatever form that takes, branding is important.  Your colors, your fonts, your style of review, all of these thing come together to make the "brand" of your blog - something that makes your reviews and posts and websites, all you various content, immediately recognizable to the people looking for you.  
What do you do to create a brand on your site?  Do you think about these things?

When I first started blogging, I never thought about branding.  I designed a blog using what I found on Blogger and that was that.  My review style has remained the same and that is probably the most consistent thing about either of my blogs, that and my gravatar.  At one point, I decided to have a professional designer change Randomly Reading and I've been very happy with it since then.  I tried changing the name of my blog The Children's War to Alex's Bookshelves, but no one liked it, so I went back to the original name and gave it a makeover.  One of the things that has really helped me make my blogs seem more branded is learning some html so I can customize certain things.  At the end of the day, though, I think no matter how much you think you have created a successful brand, it ends always being a work in progress.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Armchair Bea 2016: Day 1 Introductions and Diversity in Books

This is the first day of Armchair BEA and I am excited to be here this year.  Today is the day we get to know one another using questions that were posted by the organizers of Armchair BEA, so here goes:

Group 1:
1- What is the name you prefer to use?

The name I prefer to use Alex (and no, I'm not a guy).

2- How long have you been a book blogger?

I began blogging at The Children’s War in June 2010, which I originally envisioned as “a guide to books for young readers about World War II…and other interesting bits” and continue to see it that way, although the other interesting bits is sheer indulgence on my part (music, movies,recipes, etc).   And judging by the emails I receive, and some of the questions in the comments I get, people do find The Children’s War helpful. 

Why such a narrow topic?  Oddly enough, in graduate school, children’s books about Nazi Germany ended up being my area of expertise and more and more, I became interested in how books shape the thinking of young readers.  

I started receiving all kinds of kid's and YA books from publishers and as part of the Bank Street Children's Book Committee, I found myself reading so many children’s books that had nothing to do with WWII, that in September 2012, I decided to start a second blog called Randomly Reading.   

3- Have you ever participated in ABEA before?

This is the first year I am participating in Armchair BEA and I’m very excited about it.  I live in NYC, so in the past I just hopped on a bus to the Javits Center, but Chicago simply wasn’t in the cards for me this year.  My travel budget is limited and I have a Baugh Cousins reunion in July and I am thinking about going to KitLitCon again this year in Wichita, KS.

Group 2:
1- Do you have a favorite book?

I don’t really have a favorite book, but there are lots of books I really love.  I just finished reading The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge, Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk and Golden Boys by Sonya Hartnett, so at the moment these are my favorites.  I found all three books to be very well written and I was deeply affected by them.   

2- What is your favorite genre and why?

My favorite genre is historical fiction, though contemporary fiction is a close second.  I suppose they are favorites because I can see how the past is never really past, it still influences our present and what we do now and I think that that is very apparent in well-written, well-researched books.

4- Which day of ABEA are you looking forward to the most?

The day I am most looking forward to is the day we discuss Aesthetic Concerns.  These are the kinds of questions I think about most often as far as blogging is concerned.

5- If you could create a playlist that reflects your bookshelf, what would be the first song you choose?

The first song on my playlist for The Children’s War would be Teach Your Children by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.  As far as Randomly Reading, I think Give Me Love (Give me Love, Give Me Peace on Earth) by George Harrison because that’s how I like to think about the books I read, love, and keep.

Diversity in Books:

This topic focuses on diversity.  Whose voices do we see?  Whose voices do we need more of? Where do we find representation lacking and what can we as bloggers do to address that? What about negative or stereotypical representation?

I live in what is probably the most diverse city in the world (NYC), so the idea of finding diversity in books is a natural to me - except it isn’t.  The fact is that most of my reading in the past unintentionally had white protagonists, with a some exceptions.  The We Need Diverse Books movement, however, made me see what I hadn't seen before.  Ever since, I have made it a point to read and review well-written books with diverse characters.  It isn’t always easy.  This month (May) is Asian and Asian Pacific Heritage Month and I was looking for some good books by Asian American authors for some blog posts, and became aware of how few there are out there.  And this lack of representation is also true for other People of Color.  Yes, there are books out there, but the operative word is GOOD, not a book that has been thrown together, or an opportunistically written book, or a book about a protagonist of color by a white author who doesn't really get it.  

As bloggers, though, we have to power to promote.  Think of how often an author asks you to review a book.  Why? because of our power to promotion! The more diverse books we read, the more publishers will (hopefully) realize that is also what we want.  And we have the power to promote not just books but diverse authors as well by interviewing them on our blogs.    

I’m sure we have all read books that had negative or stereotypical representations of People of Color, and there’s been a lot of heated talk about some of the books that have been published lately. And there are some old books that are still read that have these kinds of representations.  As bloggers, if we find these negative depictions in a book we are reading to review, we have the power of the teachable moment.  If the book is otherwise good, but there is an objectionable depiction of a diverse character, talk about it on your blog.  It's a good chance to discuss how and why those negative representations could be written and see how far we have come in changing them. How else will authors and publishers know what we want.  

Monday, May 9, 2016

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, illustrated by Francis Vallejo

By the late 1950s, jazz was as very popular and decidedly American art form, and so, in 1958, Esquire Magazine decided to do an article about it.  Graphic designer Art Kane got the job, but his innovative idea about how he wanted to do the article was different and risky.

Kane's idea was to invite as many jazz musicians as were willing to show up early in the morning on Tuesday, August 12, 1958 after a long night of playing in clubs and photograph them on the front stoop of a Harlem brownstone (17 East 126th Street, NYC, to be exact). Oddly enough, Kane was a big jazz fan, but he didn't even own a professional camera when he proposed his idea.  Esquire had put an open invitation out to members of the musician's union, Local 802, for anyone connected to jazz.  Would Kane's idea work?  Would anyone show up?  Kane was a wreck until musicians started to show up, 57 in all, and so did a bunch of neighborhood kids.

Jazz Day is a collection of 21 jazzy, free verse poems that describe the events of that iconic moment in the history of jazz.  Some of the poems describe the scene as the day unfolds on East 126th Street, the difficulty of getting so many musicians to listen to instructions when they are busy greeting each other - "they don't notice/too busy with how you been....musicians/don't hear/words of instruction/only music"

Musicians can be q quirky bunch and Roxane Orgill has really captured that trait.  There is a poem detailing how some of the great jazz musicians got their nicknames, including Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday called Lady Day by Lester Young, who was called Pres, considered to be President of the Tenor Saxophone.  One of my favorites is "How to Make a Porkpie Hat" about Lester Young's iconic hat. And there is "Late" about Thelonious Monk, late because he had spent so much time picking out what to wear.  This was followed by a fun Alphabet poem listing what musician were wearing.

Orgill also gives voice to some of the kids who were there for the day - a young girl sitting at her front window twirling a lock of hair, watching and wishing she could be down there, too, waiting for it all to be over so she can go out and play.  Then, there are the 12 boys sitting on the curb next to Count Basie, jostling each other, thrilled to be in the presence of such a great musician.

The 1950s was the golden age of jazz and that is just what the Esquire article called their article.  In the end, it is the photograph that has lived on.  The book includes a two page spread of the photograph that was finally used,  and a praise poem for the cool, calm Art Kane for letting the chaos of the day determine his photograph.

Francis Vellejo's has painted his own jazz composition with his acrylic and pastel illustrations that perfectly capture the chaos, the excitement, the confusion, the grandeur of the musicians, in fact, all the events of the day.  Be sure to take a close look at all of them to discover some wonderful details.

This is a wonderfully imaginative poetic homage to these great jazz musicians, some of it based on fact, some come from imagination, all come from a clear love of jazz.  Back matter included Biographies of the individuals named in the poems, sources beyond the Esquire article, Source Notes, a Bibliography, Articles, Audiovisual Material and Websites for further reading and investigation.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library

Art Kane's Photo - The Golden Age of Jazz

Imagination Designs