Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

by Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls

Looking back on the life of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, author Carole... read more

Looking back on the life of legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, author Carole Boston Weatherford offers readers a literary soundtrack for the musician’s childhood. “Before John was a jazz giant, he heard hambones knocking in Grandma’s pots, Daddy strumming the ukulele, and Mama cranking the phonograph.” From hambones to funeral hymns, the author identifies influential sounds created by the people and events in young Coltrane’s life. Moody and whimsical mixed-media illustrations by Sean Qualls effectively capture these sound effects. Bopping bubbles and sweet strands of song drift from page to page, tying Coltrane’s musical inspirations together with reverberating ribbons and rings of sound. This inventive picture book biography has appeal beyond an audience of juvenile jazz enthusiasts—Weatherford’s poetic words motivate readers to take an “all ears” approach to their own lives. A note from the author following the text provides a summary of Coltrane’s upbringing and career, as well as a list of selected listening and further reading. (Ages 5–8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2009

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