A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Solid introduction to some jazz and bebop greats, with a bibliography and a brief list of recommended listening provided at the end.
As Miles said, "the way you change and help music is by trying to invent new ways to play."
Positive Role Models
Miles' hard work, dedication to his craft, and eagerness to learn and improve are legendary and admirable. His darker later years are not covered in this book about his youth.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound is a poetic picture book about the youth and early career of one of the towering figures in American music. The story avoids the darker details of Harlem's nightlife, instead focusing on Miles' coming-of-age in an era of exciting possibility and unbounded musical creativity.
Is It Any Good?
First-time author Kathleen Cornell Berman's poetic free verse does a nice job of capturing a jazzy feeling while telling Miles Davis' story effectively. Quotes from Miles himself are interspersed and highlighted throughout the text, giving readers a taste of how he talked and wrote. The gorgeous, soulful pastel drawings by illustrator Keith Henry Brown breathe life into the book, offering a visual representation of bebop and mid-20th-century Americana.
While Birth of the Cool: How Jazz Great Miles Davis Found His Sound doesn't delve into Miles' troubled personal life, it does briefly touch on the racial politics of the period and gives readers a sense of what New York's musical playground represented for African American artists. For parents looking to expose their children to jazz and one of the genre's finest practitioners, Birth of the Cool -- paired with the classic album of the same title -- is an excellent place to start.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.