Debut author Crow's hip ode to jazz (and scat in particular) will sweep up its audience in its catchy beat as kinetic cartoon art adds verve and wit. Blue-gray rats with bulbous snouts and ever-expressive eyes star in the animals-only tale. Bass player Cool Daddy Rat, in his rose-colored jacket and black beret, heads out to perform in the big city, but his son, Ace, stows away: Daddy Rat "got to scat for a fat cat/ witty kitty shoo bat/ went an odd way/ down Broadway/ hippy zippy/ zee zat/ and found Ace in his bass case!/ peeky squeaky who dat." After being made to phone his mother (Ace's rats-will-be-rats expression is alone worth the cover price), the little rat tags along to the various gigs, among them a rooftop party and a cruise. Lester's (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A Is for Salad) computer-assisted watercolor illustrations in a heady palette show characters seemingly in perpetual motion-jumping, dancing, moving ahead in the line outside a club. (Ignore the cover image, which seems defaced by the lettering for the title.) The undercurrent of scat, always printed in a colored font, will be read-aloud heaven for jazz-loving adults, giving kids an addictive first taste of the pleasures to be had. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)
Young children often wonder where their parents go and what they do at work all day. Well, Ace has decided to find out! His "Cool Daddy Rat" tells him good-bye and takes the subway train across town. He hauls his mighty bass case down the streets, stopping to scat at a club before heading down Broadway, at which point he discovers a stowawayAcein his case. Ace calls his mother to tell her where he is, then the adventure continues through gigs at a popular club and a cruise, sidewalk music in Times Square and SoHo, and more. Even Ace finds his inner scat, impressing observers and his dad alike. Kristyn Crow's delightful, snappy book seems to be as much a love song to The City that Never Sleeps as it a love story between a father and a son. This is a quick, jazzy read that will be sheer magic when read aloud by a creative storyteller with good sense of rhythm. Mike Lester's wacky pencil-and-watercolor illustrations add to the fun. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
K-Gr 2- This is one cool daddy who deserves the name, a bass-playing rodent who looks sharp in his crimson threads and black beret. At night, Cool Daddy Rat heads out with his violet instrument case to fill the city with his jazz riffs and scat lyrics. He discovers a stowaway in his case ("peeky squeaky who dat"), his son Ace, who follows him around, making the scene in New York and ultimately belting out his own scat, much to his daddy's delight. What drives this book is the swingin' beat of the text, which jumps and jives and begs to be read aloud. The clever words enhance the rhythm and present the city at its cool best ("rode a train 'neath/the rain drains/click clickety rat tat/got to scat for a fat cat/witty kitty shoo bat"), while the loosely drawn pencil-and-watercolor illustrations have a cartoonlike quality that adds energy and exuberance to the whole. The artwork pops with the same humor and zing as the text, creating a colorful backdrop that evokes the romance of the city night. Pair this with Chris Raschka's
Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (Scholastic, 1992) for an excellent introduction to the improvisational nature of jazz.- Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
When young Ace stows away in Daddy Rat's bass case, he discovers just how busy a New York jazz musician's day-and night-can be. Gigging uptown and down, on a cruise boat, a rooftop, in a couple clubs and even, just for the joy of it, on a SoHo street, Daddy Rat discovers that his son in tow has scat-singing talents of his own. Crow's rhyming text pulses with liberally laced scat-"huggy wuggy boo bat"-and syncopated sound words: "Zow!" Lester's impressive cartooning chops suit well here: Enhanced pencil-and-watercolor pictures, with a Beats-meet-Hanna-Barbera vibe, convey the verve of city streets and clubs a-bustle with cats and dogs. Daddy Rat, from his Diz-patch and glorious crimson double-breasted jacket down to his toothpick legs in hip slip-ons, is a hoot. Daddy and Ace hail a cab for home and well-earned rest, but kids might well request repeat scat-alouds. Terrific fun. (Picture book. 3-6)