Friday, April 28, 2017

PPBF: Jazz Day


Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

The making of a Famous Photograph
Jazz Day:
The Making of A Famous Photograph

Written by Roxane Orgill
Illustrated by Francis Vallejo

Candlewick, 2016
Grades 3-7, 66pp

Non-fiction, Poetry, Music, History, Photography

In 1958, Art Kane had a crazy idea. Gather as many jazz musicians as possible in one place for a black-and-white photograph, like a kind of graduation picture. Kane was a graphic designer and a jazz buff, not a photographer. He didn't even own a proper camera. But he pitched the idea to the boss at Esquire Magazine, and the boss went for it.

This startlingly beautiful collection of poems carries the varied rhythm of a jazz band repertoire. The poems are grouped to tell the story of a famous photograph taken for Esquire in 1958, which set out to gather all the great names in jazz music in one place for posterity. This fully-packed volume includes an introduction, author's note, bibliography, links, biographies of the various performers, and a page on the Harlem Renaissance. It's awesome!

What I Love:
I don't always react as I should to poetry and I only like hot jazz, but this book fascinated me from page one. The author's fluid poetry was expressive, scintillating, exuberant: everything I love about jazz. The emotional illustration style complimented the captivating poems. Each of the twenty-one poems varies in style, but each carries the right tone, whether introducing a jazz great or setting the scene through a child's eyes. The back matter tells the whole story in delightful detail. I'd love to see this in libraries and classrooms. It's an engaging book which will fill a gaping hole in our kids' educations.

1. Fellow PPBF reviewer Patricia Nozell posted this book last July.

2. Read The Horn Book interview with the author, or visit the Q & A from Bookology about the making of the book.

3. Check out an interesting interview with the illustrator featured on Multicultural Children's Book Day. You can read his acceptance speech for the BGHB picture book award on their website.

4. The history of jazz music for kids, on Ducksters.

5. Learn about the Harlem Renaissance, linking the setting to the photo which inspired Jazz Day.

6. The video at right shows the illustrator talking about his creative process.

7. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library. 

Reviewed by Vivian
Reviewed by Clara

Reviewed by Vivien

Reviewed by Barbara

Reviewed by Patricia

Reviewed by Jarm

Reviewed by Leslie
Reviewed by Sue and Joanne

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, April 28, 2017 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.


  1. This sounds super cool. I'm a (lapsed) amateur photographer and I'm really curious to see how the poetry and visuals work together in this one.

    1. Once a photographer, always a photographer. I hope you enjoy it.

  2. Replies
    1. I couldn't find a good site for Francis's work, but his illustrations were great, full of emotion.

  3. This sounds fun. I will have to find it.

    1. Thanks. It was nominated for a CYBILS award, so I read it last fal.. so glad I did.

  4. What fabulous share! I love to see true stories like this for budding musicians and those of us too young to remember. Such a glorious cover!

    1. I couldn't believe how interesting the author made it based on such an obscure event. It will make a great resource, too, I think. Thanks.

  5. Wow, sounds like the author infused jazz funk into the text, quite a talent.

    1. I love Roxane's writing and am looking forward to her bouncy style in Go-Go Baby. Thanks.

  6. Your review of this book won me over two fold. And how perfect to share a poetry collection/story for National Poetry Month.

    1. I hope you find the book as good as it sounds. Thanks, Leslie.

  7. What a perfect post for the last PPBF of National Poetry Month & Jazz Appreciation Month! And thanks for linking my review of Jazz Day - I really loved reading & reviewing this one.

    1. Thanks for letting me know about JAM. Here's the link to the Smithsonian website.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!