Cover image for Sweet music in Harlem
Sweet music in Harlem
Taylor, Debbie A., 1955-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Lee & Low Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 28 cm
C.J., who aspires to be as great a jazz musician as his uncle, searches for Uncle Click's hat in preparation for an important photograph and inadvertently gathers some of the greatest musicians of 1950s Harlem to join in on the picture.
Reading Level:
AD 800 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.6 0.5 78979.

Reading Counts RC K-2 4.3 2 Quiz: 46916.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area-Picture Books
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
J PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



An African-American boy unintentionally brings together all the neighbourhood's jazz musicians for a magazine photograph.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 1-3. C. J.'s uncle Click, a preeminent jazz musician from way back, is readying himself for the arrival of a magazine photographer, but he can't find his signature beret. Young C. J., in a race against time, searches high and low on the streets of Harlem for his uncle's hat. He returns home empty-handed, but he finds, in his wake, a crowd of Harlem singers, musicians, and just plain folks turned out to pose with Uncle Click. As inspiration, Taylor cites the famous Art Kane photo Harlem 0 1958, which pictures more than 50 musical luminaries gathered on a Harlem stoop 0 for 0 what turned out to be one of the most historic moments in the history of jazz. Taylor's prose moves us smoothly through the streets of Harlem, buoyed by Morrison's earthy acrylics. Especially valuable are an author's note about the photo itself and a key identifying the jazz greats who posed. --Terry Glover Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Inspired by Art Kane's famous 1958 photograph of nearly 60 celebrated jazz musicians gathered in front of a brownstone in Harlem, first-time author Taylor relates the story of young C.J., who is trying to find his musician uncle's hat in time for a photo shoot for a jazz magazine. He finds his uncle's watch at the barber shop, his handkerchief at the restaurant and his bow tie at a nightclub. All the people C.J. has encountered in his search have come to join his uncle in the photo by the time the photographer arrives. They were "some of the greatest musicians and singers in Harlem. It was like seeing the sun, the moon, and the stars all shining at once." That evening his uncle gives C.J. an early birthday present of a new clarinet, and the two discover the hat tucked into the gift box; C.J.'s "own sweet music [rings] out clear and strong." In a confident debut, Morrison nearly channels Ernie Barnes, working in velvety, contrasting colors to depict characters with thin, elongated limbs and expressive faces. The arms and legs twist at right angles, and even the desks, cabinets, drapery and wooden floors seem to be full of energy. A full-page author's note reproduces the historical photograph and names all 57 musicians, among them whites as well as blacks; oddly, Morrison's painting shows only black artists assembled before the camera. Readers are bound to notice and puzzle at the change. Ages 4-8. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3-When a famous-but forgetful-Harlem jazz musician finds out he's having his picture taken for a magazine, he sends his nephew on a wild chase through the neighborhood looking for his hat. C. J. hurries from the barbershop to the diner to the jazz club, but at each location he finds, instead of Uncle Click's beret, some other article that the man has left behind. The boy also returns with a crowd of people who are all anxious to be in the picture, too. When the photographer arrives, he finds a colorful group of jazz greats assembled on the brownstone steps. That night, Uncle Click presents C. J. with an early birthday present, a brand new clarinet that puts a sparkle in the aspiring young musician's eye, with the missing hat inside the box. This dazzling tale is filled with energy, rhythm, and style from its attention-grabbing cover to its satisfying ending. An author's note explains that an actual photograph of 57 jazz musicians taken in 1958 inspired the story; the photo is reproduced and all of the artists in it are identified. The acrylic illustrations make the text come alive. Elongated figures stretch, stride, and dance along pages filled with colorful scenes of Harlem. The characters' passion for jazz is echoed on their expressive faces and in their graceful postures, and Uncle Click's affection for his nephew shines through. A wonderful ode to the power of music and of family love.-Jane Marino, Bronxville Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.