Weinstein, author of the lighthearted picture book When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (2008), lofts another tribute, this time in short chapters. The subtitle's belied straightaway as the narrator, Armstrong's first cornet, begins opining enthusiastically from the display window of a New Orleans "hock shop."Â Claiming that Louis would "talk to me as if we were brothers, tell me every note in his life" and invoking Armstrong's lifelong journaling habit, the narrator liberally interjects dialogue and serves as a sort of touchstone for the impoverished boy's musical dreams. Biographical details, mostly sanitized for primary graders, enrich the upbeat text, and although a few of Louis' scrapes with police are highlighted, the emphasis is on Armstrong's extraordinary musical gifts and the appreciation with which they were met, from childhood street quartets through his arrival in Chicago.Â A glossary defines words like "outhouse" and "vocalist" but not the oft-used term "colored." Best enjoyed as fiction, it's still a resonant first connection to Armstrong's hard-knock beginnings, determination and towering jazz innovations. Illustrations not seen. (afterword, references) (Historical fiction. 7-10)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gr 3-6--Written in a playful tone, this story is narrated by the great Satchmo's first official horn. Young Armstrong's love of all kinds of music presented itself early on and was a gift so profound that it had to come to fruition. Although he never completed the fifth grade, Armstrong worked hard at odd jobs ranging from reading newspapers to the elderly to hocking scrap metal to playing in a street band. He was able to earn money for his family, but he was also saving to buy a special secondhand, dented horn he saw at the pawnshop. After dreaming, saving, and a generous loan from a friend, the boy was able to make the purchase. The lyrical, easy-to-read text includes details of Armstrong's life with his grandmother, his mother, his father, and his time in the Colored Waif's Home for Boys. Although he was sent there for getting in trouble, the home was a fortunate place for him to end up; he was given food, shelter, clothing, and the opportunity to hone his musical skills. Weinstein includes a glossary and a list of references as a starting point to learn more about the magical and fascinating life of this American legend.--Patty Saidenberg, George Jackson Academy, New York City[Page 165]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.