Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory Christie

Cover image of Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler and R. Gregory ChristieWheeler, Lisa. Jazz Baby. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc., 2007.

Plot:  “Bitty-boppin’ Baby” claps, dances, and eventually snoozes to the jazzy music-making of his family and neighbors.

Setting: Urban

Point of View: 3rd person

Theme: jazz, music, singing, dancing, family, neighbors, community

Literary Quality: With boisterous rhymes and toe-tap worthy rhythms, Lisa Wheeler’s text bounces off the page and begs to be read aloud: “Mama sings high. Daddy sings low. Snazzy-jazzy Baby says, “GO, MAN, GO!” So they TOOT-TOOT-TOOT and they  SNAP-SNAP-SNAP and the bouncin’ baby bebops with a CLAP-CLAP-CLAP!” R. Gregory Christie’s gouache illustrations bring further music to the page with their depictions of a multi-generational family passing around a happy, spunky baby. Warm colors outlined in broad-stroked lines that contrast against plentiful whitespace, these paintings carry forth the playfulness and energy of the narrative. As the story winds down and the “Drowsy-dozy Baby” drifts off to sleep to the soothing arms, smiles, and voices of his family, readers will be reluctant to return from this imaginative celebration of music and love that transports and inspires.

Audience: I would recommend this book to readers ages 1-8. A perfect read-aloud for a classroom or story time, but with family at the center of it, a great book for the home, as well.

Personal reaction: Picture books that take on music and sound are my favorites, and Jazz Baby ranks among the top of that list. It is fun to read, to actually say the words which tickle your mouth and in tempos that get your body itching to move.  This story is one of my son’s favorites, as well. At 18 months, he dances (bounces) when we read it, and claps and chimes in with an enthusiastic “OH YEAH!” at the end. In other words, he has been converted to a jazz baby, himself.

Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw

Cover image for Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinnMcQuinn, Anna. Lola at the Library. Illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2006.

Plot:  A little girl and her mother share a special routine on Tuesdays when they go to the library.

Setting: Modern-day town or city

Point of View: 3rd person

Theme: libraries, books, storytime, reading, routines, responsibility, librarians, mother-daughter relationships, parent-child relationships

Literary Quality: Lola at the Library describes a routine that many children and their parents or caretakers know in some variation. And hopefully it introduces a routine to many more! McQuinn’s simple text in large bold typeface is appealing to young readers. The bright acrylic illustrations bring us into Lola’s world at her perspective. We only see the upper half and faces of adults (and then only her mother) when they are at Lola’s level — waking her mother up in bed, sitting down for a treat at a cafe, and reading a bedtime story. The effect keeps the focus on Lola and a child’s worldview. This is a celebration of routines as much as it is of libraries, and should hit a chord with any child (or adult!) who loves the patterns of their days. It is worth noting that the board book edition of Lola at the Library lacks the complete story and is not nearly as rich as the picture book.

Audience: Ages 1-5. A great book for storytimes, bedtimes, and every time in-between.

Personal reaction: I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it was the cover of this book that totally drew me in, so warm and inviting. But it was the cover of the board book I was looking at! After a bit more research I realized how much better the picture book was and I’m so glad that I got a hold of it. My son and I go to storytimes at different libraries multiple times a week most weeks (we are fortunate to have some wonderful libraries in the surrounding area!), it is my favorite part of our day-to-day routines, and it was exciting to find a book that captured that experience. I look forward to the day my little boy will pack his own library card and books into his bag just like Lola!

Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown

Craig, Lindsey. Dancing Feet! Illustrated by Marc Brown. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010.
dancing_feet

Plot:  Guess who is dancing on lots of different feet? A whole menagerie of animals! And children, too!

Setting: Imaginary

Point of View: 1st person (determined by “We are dancing on stampity feet!” at the end)

Theme: dance, movement, animals, music, sound, rhythm, feet, imagination

Literary Quality: Energy bounds from the pages of this rhythmic story. Craig playfully explores sounds, movements, and colors in her text:

Creepity! Creepity!

Lots of purple feet!

Who is dancing

that creepity beat?

Caterpillar’s dancing on creepity feet.

Creepity! creepity!

Happy feet!

Every animal’s feet are a different color and have a different dance, but they’re all happy! The sounds each animal’s feet make are emphasized with italics on the page. Of course, these sounds evoke motions — tippity, stompityslappity, creepity, etc. — and offer a great opportunity for children to practice the movements, an opportunity cemented by the final dancers, children who imitate the animals. The patterns of related sounds and repetition of the question and answer format make for a perfect read-aloud. Marc Brown’s colorful collages keep the momentum going. His illustrations of the feet provide visual clues to which animals will be seen in full dancing on the following spreads. This is a story that will get everybody up and moving their happy feet!

Audience: Ages 1-7.

Personal reaction: We’re big fans of Dancing Feet in our household, and have been since my son was just a few months old. The bold collages and musical text have always captivated his attention. The animals and their dances are silly and fun. I love how seamlessly this story brings music, movement, colors, and animals together.