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Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane    by Carole Boston Weatherford & Sean Qualls order for
Before John Was a Jazz Giant
by Carole Boston Weatherford
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Daninhirsch

This picture book is a tribute to jazz great John Coltrane. It takes the reader on a musical journey through Coltrane's childhood and shows us the roots of his love of music:

'Before John was a jazz giant,
he heard steam engines whistling past,
Cousin Mary giggling at jitterbuggers,
and Bojangles tap-dancing in the picture show.

Before John was a jazz giant,
he heard Grandpa's Sunday sermons,
Mama playing hymns for the senior choir,
and the scoutmaster's call to join a band.

The story lays the foundation for Coltrane's ultimate rise to fame as a renowned jazz musician. A detailed mini-biography of John Coltrane is at the back of the book along with a selected list of Coltrane's CDs and recommendations for further reading. The artwork is almost collage-like, and - with its smoky grays and blues - has the feel of a jazz club.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant is best for those children interested in music but, even for the unmusical, it's still a nice introduction to someone who had a significant impact on an aspect of American culture.

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