Kid Lit Review of “Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!” By Wynton Marsalis

How do you convey the idea of sounds through only words? Marsalis, the renowned jazz musician and composer, makes a terrific effort here with an astounding collection of onomatopoeic verses describing the output of musical instruments and everyday sounds.

[Onomatopoeic things sound like or suggest just what they mean. Common onomatopoeias include animal noises such as oink, meow, roar, and chirp.]

Two-page spreads contain large colorful fonts for the sounds depicted:

“Big trucks on the highway RRRRUMBLE.
Hunger makes my tummy GRrruMBle.”

The narrator, a young boy of color living in New Orleans, describes a typical day:

“Chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick — buttering my toast. Krrrick krrick krrrick krrrick – quick where it itches the most.”

The final spread features a veritable symphony of sounds in an implied loud and noisy crescendo.

Illustrator Paul Rogers uses joyful images to fill in some background for us and to add some jazz references for afficionados. In an interview about the book, Rogers said:

“The drawings are hugely influenced by the great Cliff Roberts, especially his illustrations for Langston Hughes’ First Book of Jazz from 1955. One of the early decisions I made was to have the story take place in New Orleans, Wynton’s hometown and a city we both love. This setting made it believable to have music on the street and all around the neighborhood.”

Evaluation: Kids aged 3 and up and/or their parents reading to them will have a blast sounding out the words in the book. They will also learn there is music everywhere – not just from instruments. Additionally, they will add to their vocabularies and word recognition skills.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Candlewick Press, 2012

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3 Responses to Kid Lit Review of “Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!” By Wynton Marsalis

  1. Jaya says:

    I’m neither three nor parent to a young child, but would still like to get my hands on this!

    • Too many adults have no idea how excellent picture books for children are, in terms of both content and art work1

      • Jaya says:

        Very true. I read Green eggs and ham with my daughter when she was ten, and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. We are vegetarians, and it didn’t make a jot of difference to the enjoyment. 😄😄

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