Author: Toyomi Igus
Illustrator: Michele Wood
Publisher and Year: Children’s Book Press, 1998
Number of pages: 31
Genre: Non-fiction, Poetry
Descriptive Annotation: This book provides information about African American music and how it has changed over time through means of poetry, music, history, movements, and art. The central theme of this book is rhythm. Each page and style of music circles around rhythm and what types of rhythm the author sees. The book discusses the rhythm of the plantation (slave songs), the blues, ragtime, jazz, big band jazz, the jazz women, be bop, cool jazz, gospel, soul music, rock ‘n’ roll, funk, and hip hop. Each page also contains a timeline of important historical events that took place during the time that each genre was popular. The illustrations are colorful, beautiful, and vivid, and each illustration connects to the style of music and decade it relate to. Students will need to know some basic information on the origins of jazz before reading this book.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: All of the music listed in this book is specifically special to African Americans. You could use this book to discuss with your students why music played such an important role in the lives of African Americans throughout time. Each page is very cluttered with text, pictures, and information written in different directions. The poems are also difficult to follow. I think this book would be difficult to read aloud and too difficult for younger readers to read and comprehend. Based on the text and structure of the book, this book would be a good fit for upper elementary and middle school students.
Interdisciplinary Connections: As a way to tie this book into a lesson integrating social science and the fine arts, you could have your students create a presentation on one of the styles of music referenced in the book and how it influenced the historical events that took place around the time the genre of music was popular.
Other Information: This book is amazing. I learned a lot about what makes each genre of music unique. Before reading, you may want to go over some of the struggles African Americans faced over time and why they were treated poorly. As a closure activity, you could have your students compare and contrast their favorite genre of music with one of the genres listed in the book.