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The Music of Our Lives

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Karen B. Estrada reviews Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (a sonic adventure).

I have always been a fan of Wynton Marsalis, both as a musician and as a cultural educator, so when I heard he had penned a children’s book, I had to check it out. As I leafed through the pages of Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (a sonic adventure), ($15.99, Candlewick Press, Ages 3 and up) the words reverberated in my head, dripping with the melodic notes of Marsalis’s trumpet and the smooth tenor of his voice. (If you have never heard Marsalis speak or play, you must! Both his words and music exude a soulful quality that seemingly dance through the air to your ears).

In his illustrations, Paul Rogers uses bold colors and simple designs that have a jazzy edge to them, which pair in perfect harmony with the words on the page. Though I’ve never been, Rogers illustrations brings me to the porch of a New Orleans’ home, or so I pretend, on page one. Outside, I note the sounds of a mouse “eeek-eeeek-eeeking” its way around the corner as a young boy peaks out the back door. I can almost hear the “squeeeak” of the metal hinges as the screen door swings open inviting me inside to enjoy the mellow voice of a saxophone. As we follow the young boy (whom I imagine as a young Wynton) around Rogers’ soulfully drawn town, the adult Marsalis selects sounds we hear everyday to pen a symphony of noises. The sounds that echo out from the pages of this book are those from musical instruments to everyday actions as simple as buttering one’s toast. Maraslis takes noises that, though we hear them everyday, most of us probably pay little attention to (or even try to tune out), and turns them into music. He shows us that music, it its most basic form, surrounds us everyday. From the rumbling of trucks, to the “tlock…tlock” of a dripping faucet, our lives are never without accompaniment.

 

This book is an excellent introduction to sounds for young children. It goes beyond the standard (and overdone) sounds of the cow and the hen and the dog, and introduces the sounds of both instrumentation and everyday life into a child’s musical vocabulary. For any lover of jazz, or anyone looking for a different kind of children’s book of sounds, Wynton Marsalis’s Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! (a sonic adventure) is definitely worth checking out!

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