Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Before John Was a Jazz Giant

Before John Was a Jazz Giant

A Song of John Coltrane

Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrations by Sean Qualls

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)



Young John Coltrane was all ears. And there was a lot to hear growing up in the South in the 1930s: preachers praying, music on the radio, the bustling of the household. These vivid noises shaped John's own sound as a musician. Carole Boston Weatherford and Sean Qualls have composed an amazingly rich hymn to the childhood of jazz legend John Coltrane.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant is a 2009 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book and a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

NCSS-CBC: Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, American Library Association Notable Children's Books, CPL: Chicago Public Library Best of the Best, Golden Kite Honor Book, NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award Master List, GA Picture Storybook Award ML, CCBC Choice (Univ. of WI), Golden Kite Honor Book for Picture Book Text, Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, ALA Notable Children's Books, NCSS-CBC NotableTrade-Soc.Stdy, Coretta Scott King Honor, Illustrator


Praise for Before John Was a Jazz Giant

“Weatherford's evocative poem traces Coltrane's influences simply and stunningly. Qualls's muted palette of rich hues suggests the smoky jazz moods he would create.” —School Library Journal

“Even children who are unfamiliar with jazz in general and John Coltrane in particular may find their interest piqued.” —Horn Book

“Will echo with contemporary children, who will recognize the music in their daily lives.” —Booklist

“This is as much a subtle invitation for children to listen to their own worlds as it is a Coltrane biography.” —Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrations by Sean Qualls

CAROLE BOSTON WEATHERFORD wrote the Caldecott Honor book Moses: When Harriet Tubman Lead Her People to Freedom. She lives in North Carolina.

SEAN QUALLS illustrated the widely acclaimed biographies The Poet Slave of Cuba and Dizzy. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Carole Boston Weatherford

© Ronald Weatherford

Sean Qualls

Reading Guide

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Download the Before John Was a Jazz Giant projects for children to do at home and in the classroom

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From the Publisher

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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