Monday, August 1, 2011

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum

Title: Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
Author:  Robert Andrew Parker
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Publication Date: 2008
Genre/Format: Picture Book/ Biography/Nonfiction

Summary: At a very young age, Art Tatum loved to play the piano. Musically inclined and born virtually blind in one eye with very limited sight in the other eye, he first plays at home, then in church, cafes, in bars, and eventually one the radio.  After being heard on the radio, Art travels all over the country to play as a professional jazz musician becoming one of the world’s most acclaimed jazz pianists.
Personal thoughts: I absolutely love this book. While in the bookstore, and looking for another book, I saw this book on the shelf and picked it up to read. Written and illustrated by the author, you can feel the music of Art Tatum through words and illustrations.  I immediately thought of other great musicians who are visually impaired:  Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Roy Orbison.
Read Together: grades K-3
Read Without Help: grades 3-12
Read With:
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, (Chris Raschka, 1997) and Ella Fitzgerald (Andrea Pinckney, 2002).
 Snippet of Text: “My father never says much about my music, but I know he’s listening. Sometimes he even dances. Though he hardly moves, I can feel his big feet shake the floor. His rhythm matches mine, and I imagine I’m playing with a bass player tap-tapping his feet and slap-slapping his fingers. When I start Memphis Blues, my father pulls my mother from the kitchen, throws her apron on a chair and swings her across the floor until she laughs in spite of herself.” (Unnumbered page)
“Now when I play, my fingers can do everything I want them to. I can make them whistle, I can make them sing. I can play one song and then weave another song in and out and through it.” (Unnumbered page)
Connections to Reading:  Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Asking Questions, Visualizing, Author's Purpose
Connections to Writing: ExpositoryEveryone has that listens to music has a type that is their favorite. Think about the music you like to listen to and explain why you like listening to it. Be sure to include a few of your favorite artists and the songs you like to hear them sing.
Connections to Writing: Narrative—(1) Pretend you are Art Tatum and write several (2-3) entries in your journal/diary as you travel from performance to performance. (2)  Write a To-Do list of things that need to get done before your next musical performance.
Connections to Art: Create a collage about a famous musician
Connections to Social Studies:  Jazz music was an important part of the early 20th Century. Research jazz as it pertains to World War I and World War II, The Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression.

Topics Covered: Jazz, jazz musicians, family, music, self-esteem, overcoming physical disabilities
Translated to Spanish:  No
Translated to other languages: No
Other formats: None

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