In this unusual and inventive picture book that riffs on the language and rhythms of old New Orleans, noted picture book biographer Jonah Winter (Dizzy, Frida, You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?) turns his focus to one of America's early jazz heroes in this perfectly pitched book about Jelly Roll Morton.
Gorgeously illustrated by fine artist Keith Mallett, a newcomer to picture books, this biography will transport readers young and old to the musical, magical streets of New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century.
A Neal Porter Book
Winter uses a second-person narrative to create a sense of immediacy as he describes Jelly Roll Morton's tumultuous upbringing and immersion in music: "If you'd been Jelly Roll Morton/ you would've known/ that the only way to rise up/ and fly away/ was one piano note at a time." Musical interludes and a gumbo metaphor for jazz spice up the recounting, while artist Mallett's dramatic acrylics conjure a sense of rolling movement. An afterword discusses Morton's influence and whether, as the musician claimed, he actually "invented" jazz. Ages 5 8.