cover image Jazz Baby

Jazz Baby

Lisa Wheeler, , illus. by R. Gregory Christie. . Harcourt, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-202522-9

With a “clap-clap-clap!” and a “snap-snap-snap,” the catchy rhythm of Wheeler’s (Mammoths on the Move ) cadenced text will instantly grab readers with its up-tempo beat: “Grandpa TOOT-TOOTS./ Granny sings scat./ Bitty-boppin’ Baby goes RAT-TAT-TAT!” The fun begins as the eponymous baby awakens in his crib to Daddy taking out a record labeled “Jazz Baby.” Everyone—from Sister and Brother to cousins and neighbors (in a rainbow of skin tones)—partakes in an impromptu, upbeat musical dance party, with Baby at the center. His African-American family snuggles, holds and hoofs it up with him, and, with his oversize head and large black eyes, he remains the focal point of most spreads. Christie’s (Brothers in Hope ) long-limbed characters with tapered hands and feet glide and bop across the pages, while bold type at slanted angles mimics their movements. In one scene with a musical staff ribboned through it, notes are configured to represent drum and bass players, and Baby holds a quarter note like a rattle. The jam session comes full-circle when Baby returns to his bed after hugs, smiles and a blues tune from Daddy. But kids won’t be nearly so ready to settle down. After they hear the concluding “OH YEAH!” they’re likely to clamor for repeats of this buoyant musical jaunt. Ages 3-7. (Nov.)