Monday, May 16, 2016

Non-Fiction Monday: Bird & Diz by Gary Golio

Bird & Diz by Gary Golio. Illustrated by Ed Young. unpgd. Candlewick Press, February, 2015. 9780763666606. (Review from purchased copy)

Bebop is a jazz innovation that influenced and was influenced by  Dizzie Gillespie and Charlie "Birdman" Parker in the 1940s. This tribute captures the playfulness of Bird's and Diz's collaboration in an innovative format - the pages of the book accordion. While you can read it as a traditional book for the first half, you have a decision to make for how to read the second half. I opted for the dramatic. I put the book on the floor and said, "Wait a minute. Is this book finished?" Confused "No's" was the response. Then I lifted the pages to unfold them out along the floor and read the second half of the book while crouch-walking alongside the pages. This needs to be rehearsed. But the effect was fun. Don't forget to queue up Salt Peanuts! on iTunes for listening to after reading. You may find some budding jazz aficionados in your midst.

This exuberant portrayal of the creative genius and incredible friendship that these two musicians shared is a keeper! I correctly assumed that my group of students were unaware of who Bird and Diz were. I read the title and asked them to predict what they thought the book would be about. Of course, no one was even close. They were delighted by the playful rhythm and language of the text and intrigued by the pastel, impressionistic drawings. When laid out on the floor, the effect is something akin to elaborate sidewalk art.

An afterword provides further explanation of bebop, a discography and concludes with an invitation to draw! One possible extension activity could be to do just that - play Salt Peanuts! and see what images the music evokes. This book could be used in an LA class in addition to art or music class. 

Highly recommended!

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