cover image Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph

Roxane Orgill, illus. by Francis Vallejo. Candlewick, $18.99 (66p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6954-6

On Aug. 12, 1958, 57 jazz musicians—some legends like Thelonius Monk and Count Basie, some just starting out—gathered on a Harlem stoop for a photograph taken by Art Kane for Esquire magazine. In 21 poems, Orgill (Skit-Skat, Raggedy Cat) drifts between biographical sketches of the musicians, musings on the difficulty of wrangling them into a shot (“musicians/ don’t hear/ words of instruction/ only music”), poems about the neighborhood children present, and more. An alphabetical acrostic highlights what they wore (“Regimental/ Striped/ Ties/ Umbrella, unopened”), while “There’s a Hole in the Picture” contemplates the absence of Duke Ellington (Orgill even investigated where he actually was that day). When readers eventually open a foldout page to see the photograph, the moment is magic—alive with the presence and skill of the musicians, as well as the promise and potential of the children around them. Beyond being a glorious tribute to these jazz greats, the book is also a phenomenal debut for Vallejo, whose dynamic acrylic and pastel images bring readers into the heart of the action of a day like no other. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Mar.)