I love my kid. I really do. But at the moment he's in a stage that frustrates the life out of me. If you have toddlers or have spent much (any) time around them, you'll recognize it -- it's the "no way will I tolerate anything new" phase. Basically this means that his daily selections (food, clothes, books, DVDs) are from a very limited list of personally-approved items. Any deviation from said list is bound to meet up with a pronounced "no, I don't want to" or "no, I don't like it". Or, you know, just "no".
Well, okay, I can play along with this to a limited extent. But since my husband and I happen to believe that trying new things is good, we can't entirely let our dear son dictate everything. So that means that alongside his beloved dinner of noodles and cheese, Sprout is apt to find a taste of asparagus. Paired up with his favorite Cars pajama bottoms, he's likely to have a different t-shirt choice. And in with his tried-and-true library selections, there is bound to be something he thinks he just won't like.
Such was the case for Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. I picked this one up at the library because I was drawn to the energetic cover art, which features a multiracial cast. (The fact that it was sporting a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor seal didn't hurt either.) A quick read through suggested that it might be a bedtime favorite - lots of fun upbeat rhymes, characters swinging and swaying to a jazzy beat, and skin in all shades of pinks and browns. What's not to love, I thought?
Unfortunately Sprout was a harder sell. He pitched a fit the first time I pulled it out, but I persisted. And lo and behold, it has become one of the most-requested titles in the bedtime rotation. Well, how could it not be - seriously, this is a fun one to read together! The premise is simple: a lively family celebration of music, with singing and dancing and beboppin' galore. Wheeler's words put the song in motion, and Christie's vibrant characters look ready to dance right off the page. In each spread, our jazzy baby is dancing with someone new, as the whole family, plus neighbors and friends, get into the act. And the singing and dancing is infectious -- if you can read this one through without wanting to get up and dance yourself, I'd be surprised!
Sprout loves the recurring refrain sung by the main character: "Go, man, go!" My husband taught him to say it in a really jazzy way, which makes him laugh like nobody's business. All in all, this is a fun and funny title that's great for bedtime reading but would make an excellent addition to any storytime program as well. Pair with This Jazz Man for another title that will get kids up and on their feet!
Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, published by Harcourt
Sample: "Auntie toe-taps. / Uncle soft-shoes. / Fancy-dancin' Baby sings 'Doo-Wop-Doo!'"