Rummanah Aasi

Description: When Esquire magazine planned an issue to salute the American jazz scene in 1958, graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: how about gathering a group of beloved jazz musicians and photographing them? He didn’t own a good camera, didn’t know if any musicians would show up, and insisted on setting up the shoot in front of a Harlem brownstone. Could he pull it off?

Review: Jazz Day is remarkable poetry collection in which the author recreates an iconic 1958 Harlem photograph spotlighting many famous jazz musicians in just 21 poems. The poems flows beautifully as the sets up the background starting with Kane's inspiration of the photograph to providing short glimpses of the musicians' biography. Since I don't listen to jazz, a lot of the musicians were new to me and I learned a great deal from the poems. My favorite part of the book is the illustrated reproduction of the famous photograph. The illustrator beautifully captures not only the photograph in great details in acrylic and pastel painting but also captures the tone and the excitement of the photo shoot in progress. There is also an extensive resources page with thumbnail biographies, list of source notes, and bibliography for further reading. Jazz Day is a great resource for teachers and librarians who would like to do a lesson on music and poetry.  

Curriculum Connection: Art, music, and poetry. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for strong Grade 3 readers and up. 

If you like this book try: Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Harlem Hell Fighters by J. Patrick Lewis

Description: Some girls are perfectly happy never doing anything out of the ordinary. But Addie was anything but ordinary. She longed for thrills and excitement! At a time when a young lady appearing onstage was considered most unusual, Addie defied convention and became a dancer. And when she married the world-famous magician Herrmann the Great, she knew she had to be part of his show. Addie wanted to shock and dazzle! She would do anything to draw the crowds, even agree to be shot out of a cannon. But when Herrmann the Great died, Addie couldn’t disappoint her loyal fans — the show had to go on. What could she do?

Review: Anything But Ordinary Addie is a very fun read. Like many people, I also thought women were only the magician's assistant, but this pictorial biography should me that I was very wrong. Adelaide Herrman was a 19th century female magician. From a very young age, Adelaide did not want to be just any ordinary girl. Her independent spirit fueled her passion to push the limits of her gender. She joined a dance troupe, later joined the circus, and  delighted crowds by riding the bicycle-like “boneshaker.” She was introduced to magic when she boarded a ship from Europe to the U.S. where she met her husband Herrmann the Great. After a tragedy, she transitioned from a magician assistant to an established magician. Like the subject, the illustrations of this pictorial biography are larger than life and very lifelike. The colors are vibrant and bold. Each page draws you in and you begin to feel as if you are in the 19th century and Adelaide is performing right before your eyes. In addition to great story and illustrations, I also loved the female empowerment message.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 1 and up.

If you like this book try: Miss Mary Reporting by Sue Macy, The House that Jane Built by Tanya Lee Stone, Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough
6 Responses
  1. Candace Says:

    It sounds like both of these are really great and can show kids they really can do whatever they want as well as show some good diversity.

  2. Girl power and magic? Okay, got my attention. But you had to start with Jazz Day. So need to get that one. Music, art and poetry? Win all around!

  3. Kindlemom Says:

    Wonderful review for both of these!

  4. I had thought Jazz Day was just for little kids, but now I totally want to read it. Let me see if the public library has it....
    Thanks for the good reviews.

  5. Anything But Ordinary sounds like a good read for girls since I find that boys are more interested in magic. It can show girls that it wasn't just men who became magicians.

  6. Jenny Says:

    I didn't realize there were any female magicians in that time period (I actually can't think of any now) either Rummanah, so now I definitely want to meet Adelaide! Love the cover for that one too:)

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