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Review of Bird & Diz

golio_bird & dizBird & Diz
by Gary Golio; illus. by Ed Young
Primary   Candlewick   26 pp.
3/15   978-0-7636-6660-6   $19.99

An impressionistic story of a “be-bop-a-skoodley” friendship comes together in the juxtaposition of a series of opposites — rendering and abstraction, saturation and resistance, darkness and light — reflecting the special partnership of two distinct musical legends. Golio distills the relationship between John “Diz” Gillespie and Charlie “Bird” Parker into a single, electric jam session, detailing the back-and-forth nature of their improvisational synthesis in expressive, vibrant language. Young illustrates the encounter with an uninterrupted frieze on heavy paper stock, accordion-bound, that extends from the covers in a single continuous panel (a magnetized clasp holds everything together with a satisfying click). Working on chestnut-colored backgrounds, he maximizes contrast, with oily black spirals and melodious blues and greens clashing against fluorescent oranges, pinks, and whites, building to a clamorous climax. Amidst all of this visual energy, portraits of Bird and Diz, sketched in thick or thin black line, tether the abstracted musical interpretation to something recognizable. The resulting combination of words and imagery introduces the unique players and captures the controlled, explosive frenzy of their musical collaboration. An afterword offers a more straightforward definition of bebop and suggests further listening and viewing.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Thom Barthelmess About Thom Barthelmess

Thom Barthelmess is Youth Services Manager for the Whatcom County Library System in northwest Washington State.

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