A singular story about musical insects celebrating language and the inventive spirit of jazz.
A fly, who speaks jazz, asks different critters which way to town. “Rrribit,” replies the frog. “Oink,” says the hog. Although baffled, the fly hears music in their words, and that evening he stirs up a solo that sets the dinner club a hoppin.’ Get ready to tap, snap, and swing to the beat as Nancy the Gnat, Willie the Worm, and Sammy the Centipede take the stage.
Here’s a combination of storytelling, visual art, and music to savor time and again.
Awards and Distinctions
Writer’s Digest National Self-Published Book Award
America’s #1 Recommended Children’s Book -Children’s Book Sense 76
Benjamin Franklin Award for children’s book/audio book
Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children
California Department of Education Suggested Reading
San Francisco Chronicle Editors’ Picks
Featured on “West Coast Live” and major jazz radio stations
The Story Begins
a fly buzzed by.
It was late in the day,
and he was lost.
So he flew to a frog
that was sittin’ on a log
and asked the frog
which way to town.
“ZA-baza, BOO-zaba, ZEE-zah RO-ni?”
The frog didn’t get the way the Jazz Fly talked.
“Rrribit,” the frog answered, “Rrribit, Rrribit!”
What Others Say About The Jazz Fly
“This story portrays jazz as freedom to experiment with sounds and to think creatively. Beautifully illustrated, and with a great CD, this gets our vote for the best new book for children of all ages!”
—Children’s Book Sense 76, the newsletter of independent booksellers nationwide
“The art of improvisation, exuberantly explicated, introduces the American musical form.”
—Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children
“An accessible introduction to jazz quartets, scatting and improvisation. It’s a cool package.”
—San Francisco Chronicle Editors’ Picks
“Jazz Fly sits down at his drums and begins to play, incorporating the animal sounds into his music to great audience response.”
“The rhyming text includes scat refrains like “ZA-baza, BOO-zaba, ZEE-zah RO-ni” that just beg to be read aloud…The illustrations and book design give the whole enterprise the feel of jazz, even without musical accompaniment. The accompanying CD is delightful. Gollub narrates with a jazzy beat, and the danceable music perfectly accentuates the story. Children will love hearing this book read aloud and imitating the animal sounds and other refrains. A natural for storytimes.”
—School Library Journal
“Za-baza Boo-zaba Zee-zah Roni. This jazz-lovin’ fly will win a Tony! This is the BEST book to help children hear the sound of jazz, feel the rhythm and participate in some “scattin'”…The inclusion of a CD adds to this book’s success. Gollub’s speaking voice is musical and in perfect sync with the music, which he also composed. You see and hear the bass, likewise the saxophone, piano and drums in solo work and in combo. Karen Hanke’s ingenuity in depicting all of the insects reflects her appreciation of the jazz scene and her love for “bugs.”
—TNT (Journal for Teachers and Librarians)
“One of the best books on the market today about jazz for young kids.”
—Craig O’Connell, www.firstgradejazz.com
“What makes this book so successful is the CD which features Matthew Gollub telling the story with its rhythmic language and the terrific jazz music…Karen Hanke’s computer generated art is hip with such groovy insects that you’ll never want to hurt a cockroach ever again! The kids love this book.”
—Pass It On (journal for music educators)
“Gollub reads his tale as a scat singer would and plays drums with three fellow musicians. The result is a jazz quartet and a sound not often heard in children’s recordings. It does credit to the three i’s–ingenuity, improvisation and interpretation–that Gollub celebrates in an author’s note at the book’s end. And little listeners will probably swarm to it, well, like flies.”
—San Jose Mercury News