Monday, February 9, 2009

Chris Raschka: Charlie Parker Played Be Bop

There are a few books that I find myself buying over and over again. I always end up giving away my copy, or thinking of another person who *needs* to have it. Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is definitely in that category.

On the surface, Chris Raschka's illustrations are so full of color and whimsy that you want to linger on each page a moment, just to breathe it in. But beyond that, Charlie Parker Played Be Bop is one of those rare books that can actually make you feel what the author is describing (in this case, be bop).

In some ways (like be bop), there's not much to it. There are rarely more than 5 or 6 words per page, and many of the phrases are repeated over and over again. But Raschka uses rhythm and rhyme in ways that are both satisfyingly predictable and completely surprising. By the time you get to:

Alphabet, alphabet, alphabet, alph,
Chickadee, chickadee, chickadee, chick,
Overshoes, overshoes, overshoes, o,
Reeti-footi, reeti-footi, reeti-footie, ree

you can practically hear the saxophone in your ear and you want to tap your foot and dance along. It's impossible to read this book out loud and not start to put some *swing* into it. Every single time I have read this book to my students they immediately respond with a resounding, "Read it again!"

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