John Coltrane's Giant Steps

by Chris Raschka

A performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” unlike any other... read more

A performance of John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” unlike any other graces the pages of this innovative picture book that introduces Coltrane and the brilliance of his musical composition without a single “note” sounding on the page. Instead, author/artist Chris Raschka recreates the essence of “Giant Steps” using raindrops to represent the tempo, a box for the musical foundation, a snowflake for the piano part (the harmony), and a kitten, whose giant steps across the page are the melody of the song. The critical interplay of these four visual images underscores how each component is an essential part of the overall composition. Raschka makes this exceptionally clear when things get out of synch and raindrops, box, snowflake, and kitten end up in a tangle on the page. Raschka goes on to eloquently express the quality of Coltrane’s music as the narrative voice provides instruction to each of the musical “players.” (To the raindrop: “Keep in mind, when you hear John Coltrane playing, no matter how fast he’s going, he always sounds relaxed. It’s as if he made time bigger .”) The book begs to have Coltrane’s music played aloud before, during, and after sharing it with children—no doubt just what the author/artist intended. (Ages 6-10)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2003

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