Sweet Music in Harlem

By Kirkus Reviews

When ‘Click blows his trumpet the wallpaper curls,’ but he is some kind of forgetful. Nephew and aspiring clarinetist C.J. takes it upon himself to track down his uncle’s errant hat in time for his appointment with the photographer from Highnote magazine, and as he stops in at Click’s hangouts, the news about the photographer spreads. C.J. arrives home downcast and without the hat, but trailing in his wake are a crowd ‘of the greatest musicians and singers in Harlem. It was like seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars shining all at once.’ While they are inspired by the great Art Kane photograph, Harlem 1958, picture-book newcomers Taylor and Morrison do not seek to tell its story; rather they riff on the possibilities, turning the focus from the already-famous to the child who hopes to be someday. The text adopts a jazzy inflection, with dialogue that’s hipper than hip, but its the illustrations that really zing. Bright acrylics abandon realism to emphasize rhythm, elongated forms moving simously against backgrounds that curve, slant, and boogie-woogie—but almost never stay still. Nearly pitch-perfect.

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