Lesa Cline-Ransome and James Ransome – Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong (Book)


In stock

SKU: 9780823452408 Category: Tag:


Release Date:  2016

Publisher:  Holiday House

ISBN:  9780823452408

Softcover,  40 pages


The iconic and groundbreaking musician gets a gorgeous picture book biography from the wife-and-husband team who created Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson: Taking the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History (Holiday House, 2014). The mostly lyrical work touches upon the jazz performer’s humble beginnings in New Orleans, his musical influences, and his career highlights. The watercolor illustrations elevate the narrative; ranging in color from murky browns to gem-toned hues. Ransome’s depictions are reminiscent of Jerry Pinkney’s artwork in Marilyn Nelson’s Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World (Dial, 2009). The variation of design, with square-shaped insets, joy-filled profiles, and vivacious dance scenes, makes the paintings reverberate off the page. The sometimes dry text doesn’t shy away from the not-so-lucky moments of the entertainer’s early life, including his scrapes with the law, which landed him at the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys. One scene, in which a young Armstrong holds a gun at a New Year’s Eve celebration, may shock sensitive readers. It was at this home where Armstrong found his true calling as a musician. Quotations from Armstrong are sprinkled throughout, but, unfortunately, source notes aren’t provided. However, the detailed author’s note offers more background information for young researchers, and the back matter includes age-appropriate further reading and links to websites that feature archive photos and sound recordings. Armstrong’s connection to the “Just a Lucky So and So” referenced in the title, a song written by Duke Ellington and David Mack, which Armstrong and Ellington performed on a famous 1961 recording, is fleshed out in the author’s note but doesn’t receive much elaboration in the text. VERDICT A solid choice for school libraries and collections looking to freshen up biography collections for school-age readers.—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

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