: Doo-wop pop (9780060579685) : Roni Schotter : Books
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Doo-wop Pop

by Roni Schotter
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Amistad
  • Publishing date: 01/11/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780060579685
  • ISBN: 0060579684


Elijah Earl is used to keeping to himself. But he's not the only quiet one—Alishah hides behind her head scarf, Jacob twitches out of sight, Luis hides behind a book, and Pam Pam is the shyest of them all. It is not until the school janitor they call Doo-Wop Pop steps in that things begin to change for these shy students. Doo-Wop Pop, who was once an a cappella star, helps them form an unlikely doo-wop group, teaching them to be-boppa bold, be-boppa brave, and come-a, come-a, come-a outta the cave. By making music together, Elijah and the others form lasting friendships and discover talents they didn't even know they had!

This uplifting tale with vibrant artwork from Caldecott Honor?winning illustrator Bryan Collier can't be-boppa beat!

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  • 4 1/2* "...but my real name is Mr. Earl!"
    From Amazon

    You just gotta admire an author who knows her pop culture so well that she can begin a children's pictue book with a riff off the Cadillacs' "Speedo." That's the great doo-wop song with the memorable non-sequitor, "They often call me SPeedo, but my real name is...Mister Earl." Say what? It's a great line, sung with feeling in a fast swing beat, and it's echoed in th eopening of "Doo-Wop Pop": Well, they used to call him Sh=now Man, but his real name is Mr. Searle. He's old and cool. He cleans our school--with a broom and a mop. And his sounds...he calls them doo-wop. We see a handsome singer, his black pomaded hair neatly combed skyward and back, dressed in a white suit, and singing-- arm outstretched and palm open--with a beautiful smile on his face. Turn the page, and you realize this is a flashback: Currently, Mr. Searle is a janitor at a school, but he's a janitor with STYLE. He sings as he cleans, moving his broom and mop like he might a dance partner or stand-up microphone. MOre importantly, he's a man who takes an interest in the young middle or high school age students, especially the shy ones, like narrator Elijah Earl (yet another nod to the Cadillacs.) Earl and his friends-- Alisha, Jacob, Luis, and Pam Pam--are all shy, twitching or hiding under a scarf or within a book. One day, Doo-Wop Pop strolls over to the kids, and--in his typical rhyming style-- urges them to come out of their shells. Apparently, his interest in these kids stems from his own early shy ways, until one day Mr. Searle thought, "Stop being part of the carrot that stays out of the soup. Dive in with the potatoes. Be part of the group." For Mr. Searle, that means mastering the nearly forgotten art of Doo-Wop singing! I wondered whether the carrot/potato metaphor was authentic vernacular, especially since Searle repeatedly used "carrots" as a nickname for his young protoges. However, Roni Schotter does a nice (if somewhat predictable) job of showing the evolution of these apparent misfits into a cohesive, appreciated group, each discovering heretofore hidden talents: ALisha has "rhythm feet," Luis "lets go" with a commanding falsetto, Jacob's great on the low notes, and Pam Pam? "Well, she sure can jam-jam!" As in "Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street," Schotter's dialogue sometimes feels contrived, perhaps to please adults ('There's even J.S. Bach--and he's one cool dude!')who might buy the book, and to provide a uniformly happy conclusion. Once they've conquered their fears and learned to sing together, Mr. Searle says there's the only thing still missing is "music...your own special song." This is supposedly gleaned from the sounds of the school: THe tappping of feet, rattling pages, bursts of laughter, teachers scolding, even a coin dropping. This is a typical Hollywood-style account of how music is invented, but at least it's classic Hollywood. At the conclusion, Mr. Searle has retired to teach doo-wop fulltime, and the carrots have blossomed (to mix metaphors) into an even bigger doo-wop group. Just before singing before the entire school, they told themselves, "Be-boppa brave. Be-boppa bold!" and then the singers "rock-and-rolled." Although a bit corny, Ms. Schotter freshens a very "old school" singing style inservice of telling an entertaining intergenerational tale of friendship and personal development. What really seals the deal (that rhyming is contagious!) are the gorgeous illustrations by Caldecott Honoree Bryan Collier, a multi-award winning illustrator who reminds me a little of Kadir Nelson. He gives us big, colorful pictures with imaginative compositions that tend to highlight faces and feelings. He pesent an astonishing variety of perspectives (close-ups, silhouettes, isolating one person or showing the dynamics of a group) and masters them all. One other note, the school and its uniformed African American students is based upon St. Mark's, the first Catholic School in New York (founded in 1912) for African-American students. A very original work, Doo-Wop Dad boasts outstanding illustrations, a fun, rhyming text, and a music-themed story that can be adapted to a variety of school topics. Highly recommeneded.

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