Mini Reviews of Children’s Books: Jazz ABZ, Kenny and the Dragon and Knight’s Castle

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Jazz ABZ
An A to Z Collection of Jazz Portraits with Art Print (edition 2007)
by Wynton Marsalis, Paul Rogers (Illustrator)
★★★★★

Part children’s book, part poetry collection, this alphabetized introduction to jazz artists is a must for all parents who value artistic learning! The author and illustrator picked 26 major figures in jazz and then provided a poem and portrait of each one. The combination creates a beautiful effect, a book that flows just like jazz itself, through the history of the musical movement.  

The poetic book combines dozens of different writing styles. At the end there are biographies of each jazz artist and a page recommending albums from each performer. There’s also a section describing the various poetic styles used throughout the text (ode, haiku, calligram, sonnet, free verse, etc.) This gives kids a chance to learn about jazz and poetry at the same time. What an excellent pairing!

“A songwriter, a sonneteer, a sorcerer of sorghum sonatas, so sweetly sung.”

“My bass drum can blacken a big man’s eyes and injure a hero’s pride.”

Kenny and the Dragon
by Tony DiTerlizzi
★★★★☆

There are dozens of books about kids making new friends and looking past outward appearances, but this one takes the cake. A bookish rabbit named Kenny meets a dragon named Grahame and the two become fast friends. Things get complicated when Kenny’s only other friend, George the local bookseller, is hired by the king to slay the dragon.

The short book is packed with great life lessons: finding nonviolent solutions to your problems, respecting your parents, talking out your problems with others, not judging people before you get to know them, etc.

The lovely illustrations and sweet story made this one an absolute delight. I particularly loved Kenny’s parents and their development. It’s been added to my permanent collection of kids’ books.

Knight’s Castle
by Edward Eager
★★★★

When Roger and Ann’s father finds out he is ill, the family must travel with him to Baltimore while he receives medical treatment. Roger and Ann move in with their cousins, Jack and Eliza, and spend their days playing with a knight’s castle and toy soldiers.

Roger’s older toy soldier comes alive and with a bit of magic he sends Roger into an unknown land. The children soon all travel into the world they’ve built with their toys and they must learn to navigate the territory which holds Robin Hood and Ivanhoe. I was strongly reminded of the Narnia book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eager’s series is fun because each book holds adventure and life lessons for the kids. Start with Half Magic and then keep reading!

5 comments:

  1. That jazz book sounds so very cool! I need to find some random kids to give the book to :D

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  2. Nikki - I'm lucky I have a niece and nephews who like to read!

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  3. Aw, Edward Eager! I absolutely love his books. The illustrations are wonderful as well -- those slightly quizzical faces all the people have when they're supposed to be out questing or whatever.

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  4. Jenny - I just love them. I wish I'd read them when I was young.

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