This Jazz Man


In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound "divine."


Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach...

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This Jazz Man

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In this toe-tapping jazz tribute, the traditional "This Old Man" gets a swinging makeover, and some of the era's best musicians take center stage. The tuneful text and vibrant illustrations bop, slide, and shimmy across the page as Satchmo plays one, Bojangles plays two . . . right on down the line to Charles Mingus, who plays nine, plucking strings that sound "divine."


Easy on the ear and the eye, this playful introduction to nine jazz giants will teach children to count—and will give them every reason to get up and dance!


Includes a brief biography of each musician.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
This Jazz Man . . . is gentle and upbeat. Here the idea is that every great musician joins one big imaginary jazz band, and it’s a whole lot of fun.”
The New York Times Book Review
From The Critics
"This jazz man, he plays seven,/He plays notes that rise to heaven." The "jazz man" here is Dizzy Gillespie, one of the nine jazz greats profiled in this clever retooling of the song "This Old Man." Playful mixed-media collages echo the musical genre's groundbreaking energy, and the rhythmic text will keep the young audience bopping along. (ages 3 to 7)
The November 2006 issue of Child magazine
Publishers Weekly
Setting her ode to nine jazz giants to the rhythm of "This Old Man," newcomer Ehrhardt playfully substitutes the onomatopoeic sounds of their instruments (or Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's tapping feet) for the standard "knick knack paddy-whack" refrain. Drummer Art "Bu" Blakey, for example, is the jazz man who plays six: "He plays solos with his sticks,/ With a bomp-bomp! Bubbuda-bomp!/ Give the man a hand,/ This jazz man beats with the band." In each energized mixed-media spread, Roth, also making his children's book debut, features a figure-Dizzy, Bird and Satchmo among them-in dapper mismatched clothing, swinging against white backgrounds bordered in cheerful stripes styled like awnings and bandstands. Roth's painted display type cavorts across the spreads, extending each verse's third line with more syncopated syllables. Performers are not identified until the endnotes, which pair brief bios with spot illustrations. Other jazz-themed children's books go into more detail, but the candy-colored collages burst from the pages, making this addition just right as an uptempo introduction for youngest music lovers. Ages 3-7. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This introduction to nine jazz musicians uses the counting format of "This Old Man." Each is described on a double page in a brief verse which includes the sound he makes: the rhythm of "snap! snap! snazzy-snap!" or "tap-tap! shuffle-slap!" At the end of the counting to ten, the identity of each jazz man is revealed, along with a lengthy paragraph giving the basic facts of his life. Louis Armstrong, Bill Robinson, Luciano Pozo y Gonzalez, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Dizzy Gillespie, Fats Waller, and Charlie Mingus are among the players. Ehrhardt manages an appropriate description for each within the limits of the old song, ending "These jazz men make one great band!" Roth's mixed media collage images and visual sound effects translate the music each plays, along with their vividly patterned clothing and multicolored, roughly calligraphic words which interplay with the musicians' performances against the white pages. Even the varied borders will not hold still. The catchy rhythms and nonsense phrases beg us to sing along. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 3 to 7.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-Using a lively version of the children's song "This Old Man," this book introduces famous African-American jazz musicians as it counts to nine. Louis Armstrong is number 1. "This jazz man, he plays one,/He plays rhythm with his thumb,/With a Snap! Snap! Snazzy-snap!/Give the man a hand,/This jazz man scats with the band." The illustrations give clues to the performers, and the end matter has a biographical sketch for each one. In the final spread, all of the musicians are together, taking bows: "These jazz men make one great band!" The energetic collage illustrations introduce the action by picturing bold striped curtains encompassing an empty stage set up with jazz instruments; each performer's subsequent spread has striped borders. Onomatopoeic words spill across the pages in imitation of the music's sounds. The book is fun for jazz aficionados and neophytes alike. Children will enjoy the sounds and illustrations and sing along without needing to know more.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ehrhardt offers her version of the classic song, "This Old Man," with a few surprises. Ten two-page spreads update the sing-along favorite, each of the first nine devoted to a different jazz legend, from Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong to Charlie "Bird" Parker to John Burks "Dizzy" Gillespie to Charles Mingus and others. (On number ten, naturally, they jam.) In addition to the revision of the verses themselves-"He plays solo with his sticks / With a bomp-bomp! Bubbuda-bomp!" for example-additional scat phrases dance across the pages in a riot of color. Brief, concise biographies of the nine jazz men are a bonus surprise at the end (although they won't be accessible to the very young target audience). Roth's illustrations, in mixed-media collage and printmaking on watercolor paper, fill the pages with interesting shapes and multiple colors. His nifty patterned outfits for the jazz men get prime exposure when they take a bow after their jam session. Slight but snappy. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152053079
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 11/1/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 358,425
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

KAREN EHRHARDT doesn't play an instrument and can't sing a lick. But she's probably listening to music right now, at her home in the California redwoods, with her husband David and their dog Wylie. This is her first book for children.

R.G. ROTH studied drawing and painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. His award-winning work has been displayed in New York City. Though a native of the historic whaling village Cold Spring Harbor, New York, he now lives with his wife, two daughters, and their dog Moxie in a 1850s period home in Hudson, Ohio.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    What a great jazz book!

    A jazzy version of "This Old Man", Karen Ehrhardt's and R.G. Roth's book is a terrific addition to my teaching library. All of my students loved the rhythms and scats in the book. It can (and should) be sung, and doing it with keyboard/jazz accompaniment only adds to the fun. The biographical information found in the back is succinct, and the illustrations are "cool jazz".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006

    A Great Book for Any Music Lover!

    'Doodly-doodly-Doot-doot! Toot-Toot!' That's Karen Ehrhardt's delightful take on a Dizzy Gillespie trumpet line, and like the rest of this sparkling first book, every note rings joyous and true. In a somewhat daring move, Ms. Ehrhardt airs out the musty English poem, 'This Old Man,' with jazz-infused lyrics, and distills the essence of nine jazz giants: Louis Armstrong, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, Chano Pozo, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charles Mingus. The improvisations in 'This Jazz Man' are authentic and fun--the text is made for reading out loud! Illustrator R. G. Roth complements Ehrhardt's narrative pictures with multi-media illustrations that are playfully retro yet fresh and child-friendly. For the small fry, a cute and playfully elusive mouse plays hide and seek throughout the book. 'This Jazz Man' has an exhilarating finale -- after each man plays (1 through 9), all of the jazz icons appear on stage together: This jazz band, they play ten, We beg them to play again, With an 'Encore, we want more!' Give them all a hand' These jazz men make one great band! 'This Jazz Man' gets it right, rhymes it tight, and entertains with style. It's a natural for school or library audiences, rambunctious group singing, the first efforts of beginning readers, or as a bedtime treat for toddlers. Older students may delve further into the lives and times of the musicians through the rich yet compact bio sketches that follow the poem.In addition, teachers can easily adapt 'This Jazz Man' to language units, numbers and counting, music appreciation, art, solo and group singing. There's an excellent curriculum guide at

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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