LOOKIN' FOR BIRD IN THE BIG CITY

Robert Burleigh, Author, Marek Los, Illustrator , illus. by Marek Los. Harcourt/Silver Whistle $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-202031-6

Words and art harmonize in this creatively imagined account of the first meeting between a teenage Miles Davis and celebrated saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker. Los makes a sparkling children's book debut here: his paintings create visual riffs that complement the jazz musicians and setting he salutes. Based on a true story, Burleigh's (Hoops) lyrical narrative follows the young Miles as he wanders through New York City in search of Parker. As he traverses the streets, Davis plays his trumpet: "Notes came to me,/ as jagged as the city skyline,/ and far away as where the sun goes down,/ 'cause I wanted my music to soar as high as his,/ and I had to be ready." Los's paintings capture the mood of the music plus the energy and vibrancy of Manhattan at daybreak, twilight and under overcast skies. He mingles blazing color and dramatic shadowing and inventively juxtaposes natural and neon light. Observant youngsters will realize that several times Davis's path just misses crossing Parker's and will pick up on the intermittent presence of a snow-white bird in the sky (as well as evidence of such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Billie Holiday). Even without the strains of bebop ("Zip-de-ba, dip-dip-dip, de-beoo-de-boo") that float across these pages, readers would appreciate the deep resonance of this fine collaboration. Ages 6-9. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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