Children's Author / Storyteller / Bilingual Presenter

The Jazz Fly (book with audio CD and free download)


The Jazz Fly
Hardcover book with audio CD and free download
$15.00 / U.S.A. ISBN 978-1889910-178
Paperback book with audio CD and free download
$9.95 / U.S.A. ISBN 978-1889910-437
Written and Performed by Matthew Gollub
Illustrated by Karen Hanke
Ages 2-99. 32 pages. Full color
Lexile Measure : AD540L
Grade Level : Preschool – 2
Published by Tortuga Press


This award-winning children’s book with audio about jazz celebrates language and the inventive spirit of the music. Includes narration set to a jazz quartet on audio CD.

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.’ The computer enhanced artwork of Karen Hanke perfectly complements the text and CD. 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.

Matthew was honored to work closely with illustrator Karen Hanke ( And, of course, he enjoyed recording the music with Ylonda Nickell (alto sax), Cliff Zyskowski (piano) and Aida D’Arteaga (bass/musical score) while he took care of the narration and drums. Audio wizard Tim Gennert ( recorded and co-produced the audio at Prairie Sun Recording Studio (, a serious, but laid back, studio in Northern California.

Thinking of sharing The Jazz Fly in class? Then check out this popular lesson plan here! And here is an interview about the Jazz Fly series that ran in the National Association for Music Education (NAFME) journal.

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!”

Here’s what reviewers say about The Jazz Fly, an award-winning children’s book with audio about jazz

“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


And here’s what others say about using The Jazz Fly, to introduce children to jazz

 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,

“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)

In Conclusion

“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

The Jazz Fly, the award-winning children’s book with audio about jazz, is available where books are sold. But if you’d like a personally signed book for you, your family, a special child or teacher, just order your copy through the shopping cart above! And remember to indicate the name(s) to whom you’d like Matthew to sign the book. Also, include your shipping or mail address.

Ready to bop along with more Jazz Fly adventures? Then check out these popular, award-winning sequels! Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga invites children to the world of Spanish and Latin jazz. Jazz Fly 3: The Caribbean Sea takes a dive into Caribbean jazz styles words in Spanish and French!


There are no reviews yet.

Be the first to review “The Jazz Fly (book with audio CD and free download)”

Meet Matthew

I have a passion for encouraging young people to read--and for encouraging parents to read to their kids. "Language, rhythm, color, life!"™ are the threads I weave through my books and presentations. Read more...

Schedule Matthew for your

School Assemblies

Bilingual Family Reading Nights

Library Events


Contact Matthew


Phone: (707) 544-4720 PST

To email, please click the green icon above.

Tortuga Press

2777 Yulupa Ave. #181
Santa Rosa, CA 95405

press room6press room 4

Matthew makes reading FUN!

"Language, rhythm, color, life!"™