Jazz Day: the Making of a Famous Photograph
Illustrated by Francis Vallejo
Candlewick Press 2016. Ages 8-12.
Hardcover: 978-0-7636-6954-6 $18.99
In 1958, Esquire magazine planned a special issue to salute American jazz. Graphic designer Art Kane pitched a crazy idea: gather as many musicians as could be found and take a big group photograph. He didn’t own a good camera and he didn’t know how many, if any, musicians would show up. Could he pull it off?
In this captivating collection of twenty-one poems (mostly free-verse, one pantoum), Roxane Orgill steps into the frame of the famous photograph Harlem 1958 and re-creates that serendipitous day. She captures the musicians’ quirks and mischief and their joy at encountering one another on a Harlem block, which just happens to be filled with boisterous kids, some of whom even find their way into the picture.
Jazz Day includes, in addition to the poems, bios, an introduction, an author’s note, sources, a bibliography, and a foldout of Art Kane’s famous photograph with a key to the identities of the fifty-seven musicians.
Awards and Honors
American Library Association Notable Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Best Picture Book 2016
Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature Best Books of 2016
Chicago Public Library Best Books of 2016
Junior Library Guild selection
Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Books of 2016
New York Public Library’s Top Ten of the Best 100 Books for Kids 2016
New York Public Library’s 100 Best Books for Kids 
Parents’ Choice Gold Award for nonfiction
Society of Illustrators Annual Exhibition, book category: eight pieces of art selected from Jazz Day
Reviews
red star"An inspiring example of art that arises from the simple question, "What did you notice in the picture?" Horn Book, starred review
red star“Orgill and Vallejo offer a dynamic, multifaceted work that deftly juxtaposes biography with praise poem, information with imagination. Teachers, librarians, jazz-loving families: take note.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
red star"Kane's photograph, 'Harlem, 1958,' is here immortalized in Orgill's poetry, which swings and sways, and Vallejo's vibrant artwork, which captures not just the players but the mood on 126th Street where the photo shoot takes place." Booklist, starred review
red star“In 21 poems, Orgill 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…. 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…. a glorious tribute to these jazz greats.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
red star“A rich, unique, playful, and masterfully orchestrated work.” —School Library Journal, starred review
red star“Kids indifferent to jazz or photography will be swept up nonetheless in the novelty of the episode, the idiosyncrasies of the participants, and the shoulder-rubbing between the neighborhood kids and the adult celebs…. Perfect.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
Excerpt
Some Kind of Formation
Hundred-and-twenty-six street
on a Tuesday morning
long-time-no-see
“Hi ya, Monk!”
“Fump, my man!”
camera guy’s sweeping
jazzmen like bundles
toward number 17
they don’t notice
too busy with how you been
he’s shouting
rolling the Times into a megaphone
“please, please get into some kind of formation”
no one listens
musicians
don’t hear
words of instruction
only music
Jazz Day. Text copyright © 2016 by Roxane Orgill. Illustrations copyright © 2016 by Francis Vallejo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
Copyright 2014-, Roxane Orgill. All rights reserved.