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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.

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

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

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.

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

image of Carole Boston Weatherfordo
© Ronald Weatherford

For Parents and Educators

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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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Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)

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