“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite ▪ Picture Book with Audio CD

Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite
By Anna Harwell Celenza ▪ Illustrated by Don Tate
November 2011 ▪ Charlesbridge ▪ Picture Book with Audio CD
Hop-a-tooty and slim-slam-a-booty.
Story:  In 1960 the great Duke Ellington and his friend and collaborator 
Billy Strayhorn put a jazzy spin on a holiday classic and created the nuttiest Nutcracker of all. 

Anna Harwell Celenza has brought the story behind the story of some of the greatest musical compositions to young readers, including Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony, and even Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. But now she swings with some jumpin’ new cats—Duke Ellington’s orchestra with Billy Strayhorn. These two jazz giants took on Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece and infused it with glitz and glam for a modern holiday celebration that goes crazy with the musical influences of the time. A fun story, full of the slang of 1960s jazz cats, and the sounds of New Orleans, Harlem, and Las Vegas. A CD of the original Columbia Records recording with the Duke Ellington Orchestra is included. 

Story behind the story: "Listening to music is liberating," says author Anna Celenza.  "For me, it’s like reading a book: sometimes I do it alone; sometimes I like to share the experience.  That’s why I wrote Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite.  For years, I’ve enjoyed listening to the Nutcracker. Now I hope to share this music with readers like you! My love of Duke’s music inspired me to look for the story behind the notes. There I discovered a close-knit group of friends and musicians: the “cats” in Ellington’s band.  As Duke’s best friend Billy Strayhorn once said: 'They’re beyond category!'

Duke and Billy didn’t like to be categorized, that’s why they blended classical music and jazz.  You can see the band in action here: 

Never has the Nutcracker been so hip!"

"If my books can make classical music more accessible to kids,
that would be a dream come true."

Anna grew up on a farm in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. She played the cello in the Greensboro Youth Orchestra and the drums in her high school marching band and jazz band. Music and the arts have always been an important part of her life, leading her to a B.A in art history and music history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, studies in art history at the Rijks-University Gent in Ghent, Belgium, and an M.A. and Ph.D.in musicology from Duke University. 

Her expertise in art and music history, combined with her passion for music and her love of literature, led her to write The Farewell Symphony, her first children's book. She realized that there were few books that introduce children to specific works of classical music. Children are exposed to classical music everyday in commercials and cartoons and even in pop music, but they aren't exposed to the stories and the history behind these compositions. In her workshops and children's classes, and now in her books, Anna ensures that children come away with an appreciation, even a love, of classical music.  Currently the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University, her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs including NPR's "Todd Mundt Show," BBC's "Music Matters" and "Prom Broadcasts," and C-Span's "Book-TV" and she's served as a writer and guest commentator for Michigan Public Radio and NPR's "Performance Today."  

"Love jazz? Want to pass that love along to your children? Then pick up a copy of Anna Harwell Celenza’s wonderful book, Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, illustrated by Don Tate and it includes a CD recording! Together with his friend, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington composed, orchestrated, and recorded some of the greatest jazz classics…. This one is a keeper!" – Alan Caruba

“Laced with invented dialogue and crisply delineating the close collaboration between Ellington and his brilliant, classically trained friend, Billy Strayhorn, the narrative traces the piece from radical idea to work in progress to exuberant recording session…. The brilliant music cues Tate’s full-bleed mixed-media pictures. … The delightful accompanying full-length CD is a must-listen, since text and art mesh with it in genuine symbiosis, song by song….real cool.” – Kirkus Reviews 

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Everyday Dress Up • Picture book

Everyday Dress Up 
written and illus. by Selina Alko
Available now   Knopf Books for Young Readers   Ages 5 - 8

It's no secret that little girls love playing dress up, but the little girl in this book ditches her princess duds in favor of costumes inspired by great women in history.

I used to only play princess
Until Mommy showed me pictures
And told me stories of real, great women.

Now dressing up is an adventure
When, every day of the week,
I am a daring new dame!

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to chef extraordinaire Julia Child to queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, our protagonist pays homage to the women who came before her and imagines herself in their shoes. Maybe someday she'll inspire little girls with her own gown of greatness.

Story behind the story:  Selina loved playing dress up as a child and now enjoys helping her kids play dress up—especially on Halloween. She was inspired to write Everyday Dress Up as a way to give her daughter alternatives to all the princess dress-up books on her shelves. Through her art, writing and childrearing, Selina believes in instilling open-mindedness in children, as well as sparking their imaginations to be and do whatever their little hearts and minds desire.  SELINA ALKO is the acclaimed author-illustrator of I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother and B Is for Brooklyn, and the illustrator of the beloved My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two children.


"A happy antidote to the princess plague." – Kirkus Reviews
'A well-meaning. . .reminder of girls’ potential." – Publishers Weekly

FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...