Monday, January 22, 2007


Winter, Jonah. 2006. DIZZY. Ill. by Sean Quails. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439507375 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

Sharing the story of “one real cool cat,” Winter’s rich picture book biography celebrates the life and art of Jazz music icon, Dizzy Gillespie. From his life as a young boy growing up in South Carolina to his rise as a jazz great in New York, each detail works together to create a rich lyrical tribute. Winter’s use of rhyme and meter set the tone for the narrative, and readers are given an opportunity to watch Dizzy’s life and career unfold. Opening with his childhood where Dizzy was often the victim of abuse from his father and peers, readers learn how Dizzy finds salvation in his trumpet and once uplifted, his spirit soars. While his playfulness costs him many musical gigs, it is his willingness to be a risk taker so that “the very thing that had gotten him into trouble/so much-/being a clown, breaking all the rules-/had become the thing that made him great…” Reminiscent of a blast from Dizzy’s horn, Winter’s manipulation of his text is perfectly paired with Quails’ stunning mixed media art. Using a palette of blues, beiges, pinks, and grays, the illustrations on the pages evoke a musical splendor of their own. Images move from the abstract to representational, and each is visually stunning. Rounding out this fine work is an extensive author’s note which provides additional support for readers.

After reading Dizzy Gillespie’s biography, teens could write an “I Am” poem by analyzing information about his character from Winter’s account and then illustrate the poem.

Other books about jazz:
Myers, Walter Dean. BLUES JOURNEY. ISBN 0823416135
Myers, Walter Dean. JAZZ. ISBN 0823415457

By Rose Brock

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