In "This Jazz Man," by Karen Ehrhardt, illustrated by R.G. Roth (Harcourt, $16), the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage.
The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two…right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound divine. Included is a brief biography of each musician.
Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count – and will give them every reason to get up and dance.
"When I was writing 'This Jazz Man,' I listened to the musicians' recordings, and when possible, I watched videos of performances," Ehrhardt said. "I found choreographed tap routines in the videos and in written form. I used some of the names of the dance steps, like shim-sham, and tried to incorporate the rhythm in my text. I tried to make up words that would mimic the sounds. Like Satchmo, I improvised."
The illustrator, R.G. Roth, was also inspired by recordings of the jazz greats.
"I have a large collection of jazz music, which I always listen to while I'm painting," he said. "I've always been very interested in the musicians themselves. I did quite a bit of research on each musician before I began drawing them, trying to capture the essence of each personality."
Roth studied drawing and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. His award-winning work has been displayed in New York City.