So much that has already been said about Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! Thinking back to the origins of this wonderful book and the long process, I have been so privileged to witness the gentle genius of Paul’s collaboration with Mr. Marsalis. Once again this project would not have happened without Paul’s thoughtful and respectfully inventive manner in which he approached this project.
Paul was invited to spend a week on the road with Wynton Marsalis and his band documenting the remarkable behind the scenes vignettes of traveling to and from different towns and music halls. It was between these gigs, in the back seat of the car when Paul started writing down Wynton’s ideas for poems. Paul was both cartographer and navigator on this project embarking on the journey by sending Wynton notes of what he said on that trip. Then Wynton sent back 12 very adventurous poems and Paul drew the different “musicians” be it a squeaking mouse, flopping bare feet across a wood floor or tubas and kazoos. This process went on for years and when both were happy with a dummy Karen Lotz at Candlewick, who conceived this picture book of sounds for very early readers, added her sage advice on pacing and spelling.
Paul has written a very informative blog post about the project and I have excerpted an example of how he subtly communicates directly with a respected friend and collaborator as well as the larger jazz audience with his fine artwork:
“ I added some things to the drawings to make Wynton smile and to also give jazz fans something to look for. The train carries the number 219 because of the Louis Armstrong song, The 2:19 Took My Baby Away, Slim Gaillard is the driver of the Cement-Mixer-Putty-Putty, Wynton had the idea to make trombone player Jack Teagarden, because kids love books with Teagarden in them.
My job was to translate the sounds Wynton made on the phone into designs that would work on the page. I wish I taped some of our conversations; there was something wonderful about having one of the greatest jazz musicians on earth making noises over the phone to describe violins, motorcycles, saxophones and trains.This is a book for children written by a jazz musician, the poems are hip and I hope the drawings measure up to the words. We both hope children and their families enjoy it and listen to the sounds around their own neighborhoods in a new way.”
Candlewick is the publisher but Random House is Wynton Marsalis’ publisher so you can find a review on their website:
The creators of Jazz ABZ are back for an encore! With infectious rhythm and rhyme, musical master Wynton Marsalis opens kids’ ears to the sounds around us…and acclaimed illustrator Paul Rogers takes readers (and listeners) on a rollicking, clanging, clapping tour through the many sounds that fill a neighborhood.
And there is more…
New York Times Book Review Best Children’s Books of 2012