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Review of Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong

cline-ransome_just a lucky so and so

Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong by Lesa Cline-Ransome; 
illus. by James Ransome Primary    Holiday    40 pp. 4/16    978-0-8234-3428-2    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3598-2    $16.95 Today’s child may know Louis Armstrong only as the trumpeter of “What a Wonderful World” or as a character in an old movie; the Ransomes’ newest […]

Pop culture

pop culture_anderson_miley cyrus

Anderson, Jennifer Joline  Miley Cyrus: Pop Princess Middle school, high school     112 pp.    ABDO/Essential Library Burling, Alexis  Pharrell Williams: Grammy-Winning Singer, Songwriter & Producer Middle school, high school     112 pp.   ABDO/Essential Library Lusted, Marcia Amidon  Blake Shelton: Country Singer & TV Personality Middle school, high school     112 pp.   ABDO/Essential Library Contemporary Lives series. Generously illustrated […]

Review of Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound

pinkney_rhythm ride

Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through 
the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney Middle School   Roaring Brook   166 pp. 9/15   978-1-59643-973-3   $19.99   g As related by an irrepressible narrator Pinkney names “the Groove,” this history of Motown Records manages not only to smartly place the company and its hit records in the context of (mostly) […]

Review of Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

engle_drum dream girl

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage 
Changed Music by Margarita Engle; 
illus. by Rafael López Primary    Houghton    40 pp. 3/15    978-0-544-10229-3    $16.99 A young girl dreams of becoming a drummer. Though she lives “on an island of music / in a city of drumbeats,” hers is an impossible dream: only boys play drums. An […]

Rock ‘n’ roll

anniss_story of hip-hop

Anniss, Matt  The Story of Hip-Hop Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Pop Music Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Punk and Indie Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Rock Music Gr. 4–6      32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story […]

They’ve got the beat

engle_drum dream girl

Picture-book biographies can be an instrumental way to introduce children to musical figures. Whether they’re breaking new ground or slapping the skins — or both! — the following real-life performers will inspire kids to march to their own beat. The protagonist of Margarita Engle’s poetic picture book Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed […]

Please pass the beignets

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz

In our upcoming May/June issue, we review two nonfiction books starring jazz greats from the Big Easy: How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz and Trombone Shorty.    Now I’m nostalgic for NOLA, particularly its incredible live music scene! I can’t wait to get back to Frenchmen St. The annual — and beloved — New Orleans […]

Review of Trombone Shorty

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Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier Primary   Abrams   40 pp. 4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95 In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his […]

Review of How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz

How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz by Jonah Winter; 
illus. by Keith Mallett Primary   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp. 6/15   978-1-59643-963-4   $17.99 Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine. Opening with a dreamy spread set in a dimly lit New […]

Review of Bird & Diz

golio_bird & diz

Bird & Diz by Gary Golio; illus. by Ed Young Primary   Candlewick   26 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-6660-6   $19.99 An impressionistic story of a “be-bop-a-skoodley” friendship comes together in the juxtaposition of a series of opposites — rendering and abstraction, saturation and resistance, darkness and light — reflecting the special partnership of two distinct musical legends. Golio […]