From the Publisher
“If you are looking for a solid biography for middle schoolers of the man who was arguably the top jazz pianist for over twenty years and among the best for the rest of his life, then look no further than this book. Though it is only briefly referenced, the author met Peterson back in 1965, and his clear respect for the man, as well as Peterson’s formidable jazz skills, shows throughout this book…. Still inexorably leading you through Peterson’s life, Batten makes the reader unfamiliar with songs run to the web to listen for the first time….”
– VOYA Magazine
Praise for The War To End All Wars
"...Batten's account is a model of lucidity.... Batten's clean, intelligent prose makes this highly readable and comprehensible...."
—The Toronto Star
"...a fine introduction, especially for a young reader."
Praise for The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story Of Tom Longboat
"vividly readable...brilliantly done!"
—Norma Fleck Jury
"[T]his book is a superb narrative - and a revelatory one - about a largely unknown if not quite unsung Canadian icon."
—The Globe and Mail
"...a wonderful book. Jack Batten has written a riveting sports story...an intriguing slice of social and economic life in the early decades of the 20th century, raising some provocative questions..."
— Books in Canada
Children's Literature - Danielle Williams
Oscar Peterson came from more than humble beginnings to rise to the heights of jazz stardom. Possessed of an innate talent, Peterson's early life was built around learning and playing the piano, continuing to amaze his family and teachers at his talent throughout his young years. In 1949, Peterson joined the Jazz at the Philharmonic musicians which changed his life and brought Peterson to the forefront of the jazz genre. Peterson's talent made him a popular musician, but he still faced discrimination because of his race. Although he was able to put most episodes of discrimination behind him, he still harbored resentment of some actions in his early life. Filled with images of Peterson throughout his life, along with members of his jazz trio throughout the years, Batten has presented an inclusive portrayal of Oscar Peterson's professional life as a jazz pianist and includes his personal and public struggles and triumphs to add depth to the text. The text makes a more than adequate introduction to Peterson, but also provides a tantalizing glimpse into the history of jazz and especially Peterson's place in jazz history. Reviewer: Danielle Williams
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—Peterson may not be a household name in the U.S., but, in his native Canada, the legendary jazz pianist is a pretty big deal. Few pianists could match Peterson in terms of technical virtuosity, but fellow countryman (and former jazz reviewer) Batten goes beyond the music and shows that hard work and parental support helped the musician distinguish himself among the many jazz greats of his day. The author seems unable at times to pinpoint his intended audience. For instance, while discussing the racism Peterson faced touring in the American South, he uses awkward and clichéd language that seems geared toward elementary students. Yet when describing Peterson's playing, he highlights intricacies of the music that only a jazz fan would understand. The book's design is also largely problematic; in many cases, photographs on a given page have absolutely nothing to do with the surrounding text. Take the discussion of Peterson's father's failing health, which shares space with a photo of Peterson and Fred Astaire joking together. While certainly worthy of a biopic, this book will be a hard sell for most young readers. The esoteric subject, inconsistent writing, and subpar organization make it an additional purchase.—Sam Bloom, Blue Ash Library, Cincinnati, OH