Showing posts from September, 2009

Ten Fun Activities to Go Along with COOL DADDY RAT by Kristyn Crow

Teachers or Parents: Choose any of these fun activities to experience the snappy book COOL DADDY RAT with your children in a big way!

Purpose: To help children learn to appreciate jazz music as an American art form, to help them recognize and use improvisation in language and music, and to encourage individual creativity and a love for reading. 1. Visit my blog online with your class,, go to my September 11th 2009 post, and watch a few clips of Ella Fitzgerald, Jason Mraz, and other musicians scatting.

2. Read Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop, by Chris Raschka. Students can invent their own musical interpretation of the book. Other fun jazz books to read: Before John was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane, by Carole Boston Weatherford; Jazz by Walter Dean Meyers, Jazz Fly, by Matthew Gollub. Talk about the history of jazz and its American roots.

3. Play jazz music in the background while you read COOL DADDY RAT aloud. Have the children “echo” back the …


Image're reading COOL DADDY RAT, and your kids seem puzzled. What are those funny lines of nonsense text, anyway? SCAT? What is that? Well, children know scat--they've heard it even as babies. They just need to be reminded. Here is the famous Louis Prima scat from the Jungle Book. Have your kids raise their hands when they hear the scat. (NOTE: You must actually be at my blogsite to hear/view these clips. ) Or join in:

Now, Ella Fitzgerald was a great jazz singer from the 1960s. She was the queen of scat, and here's why. (You won't need to watch the whole clip to get the idea):

So now that we're getting familiar with scat, have your kids watch this fun clip:

Yep, scat is cool. Scat is fun. Scat is for everyone!

Now just in case you thought scat was ancient, old, and dried-up, oh no, no, no. Scat is alive and well. It lives and breathes in some of our best current musicians:

So now you know why Ace just had to make his scattin' deb…
My editor at Putnam just sent me my first official review of "The Middle-Child Blues." It's from Kirkus:


Being stuck in between a big brother and a younger sister has put Lee in touch with the spirit of the blues. A family trip to the amusement park provides a vivid reminder of why being the middle child can be so bad. Their day begins with Lee, guitar in backpack and sporting a perfectly coiffed pompadour, being left in the driveway. Even getting lunch is no fun: “Ray can order a ‘Big Bun,’ / and Kate’s meal has a toy. / I get a plain cheeseburger / since I’m just the middle boy.” Catrow’s vibrant palette and frenetic style aptly depict this active family and their environs. His keen sense of proportion and angle keeps a scowling Lee at the center of the double-page spreads of bustling crowds and park rides. A series of humiliations ensues until the blues cannot be restrained. Lee breaks into his song of woe that attracts a crowd of bir…