Title: Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph
Author: Roxane Orgill
Illustrator: Francis Vallejo
Pages: 55 pages
Publisher/Date: Candlewick Press, c2016.
In 1958, Art Kane had a crazy idea. Gather as many jazz musicians as possible in one place for a big black-and-white photograph, like a kind of graduation picture. (ix)
A collection of poems inspired by a famous photo of jazz musicians from almost 60 years ago, I’m unsure how much appeal or interest children will have in picking up this publication. Jazz is not something that is played regularly on the modern radio, and has been relegated to a stereotypical niche markets of listeners, such as NPR donors or college students who swing dance. Learning the stories behind the people featured in the photo are interesting, but not the primary goal of the book, which means you can’t even promote it as a collective biography, even though there are short biographies of a select few participants in the back. It’s good that the original photo was included along with a chart for identification purposes, but including the chart in the back matter might mean some readers will miss it entirely. The illustrations, primarily in sepia tones, seem more successful when focusing on a single person or small group than when trying to squeeze the entire group onto a page. There is little action to propel the story since it’s basically the story of how a photo was taken, and the poems cover vignettes of either the participants’ previous experiences or embellished accounts of the day. While I can recognize and pay homage to the historical significance of the photo, it’s going to be a hard hand sell for anyone who isn’t already interested in the topic.
This review is posted in honor of Nonfiction Monday. Take a look at what everyone else is reading in nonfiction this week.