The Jazz Fly Matthew Gollub Karen Hanke Tortuga Press ISBN 1889910171
The Jazz Fly is one cute character, with big bug eyes (literally), decked out in black tie and tux. You see, he's a drummer late for his gig in the city. Trouble is, he doesn't know how to get there from the countryside. Animals he asks for directions just don't understand when he says "Za-baza, Boo-zaba, ZEE-zah Ro-ni?" The answer in their own languages, with "Rrribit", "Oink!", "Hee Haw!" and "Rruff!".
Eventually The Jazz Fly finds his quartet, the Jazz Bugs (Willie the Worm on bass, Nancy the Gnat on sax, Sammy the Centipede on piano). They entertain a club full of beetles, maggots and locusts dining by firefly light. But the queen bee who runs the club isn't satisfied. She wants a new sound. I'll let you discover what the Jazz Fly comes up with to save the day.
The accompanying CD includes several styles of high-spirited jazz (including boogie woogie and modal) and writer/drummer Matthew Gollub's hipster narration, aided by the other Jazz Bugs echoing some of the scat.
The Jazz Fly, in 32-page picture book format, is quite appealing, with an interesting mix of computer-enhanced illustration combining black-and-white and muted colors. Gollub's reading is terrific but speedy. I agree with his suggestion that readers try their own rhythms. They may also want to try their own tempo. (Illustrated by Karen Hanke. From Tortuga Press, 2000, with CD. Hard cover, $17.95; publisher says it's for children two years and up).