Just a Lucky so and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong
Just a Lucky so and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong
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Annotation: Relates the story of jazz innovator Louis Armstong's rise from street waif to international superstar.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #5820588
Format: Library Binding
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2016
Edition Date: 2016
Illustrator: Ransome, James,
Pages: 40
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8234-3428-1
ISBN 13: 978-0-8234-3428-2
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2014038325
Dimensions: 29 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
It may well be that Louis Armstrong was "just a lucky so and so," as the title of this biography proclaims, but between the covers of this book is the tale of a life of optimism, persistence, and resourcefulness. Little Louis Armstrong was born in the poor part of New Orleans and got his start listening to the music of his neighborhood brass bands, honky-tonk combos, and church songs. Louis first started tooting his tin horn at age seven while working with Morris, a scrap collector who bought the boy his first horn and encouraged him to play. Louis' optimism never wavered, even in the face of heartbreaking setbacks, and his broad smile earned him the nickname, Satchel mouth tchmo, for short. The narrative is dense with biographical details about his rise to fame and quotes from Satchmo himself. Bold watercolor illustrations infused with light and movement add the perfect complement to this sweet tale of one of America's musical taures. Can be paired with Troy Andrews' Trombone shorty (2015).
Horn Book
The story of Armstrong's childhood and early adulthood is told in two voices and two fonts: a black, sans serif font for the third-person account, and a colorful font for (undocumented) first-person quotations from Satchmo himself. While the illustrations maintain a consistently upbeat mood, the story is one of challenge and optimism. Details in a lengthy author's note are better suited to older readers.
Publishers Weekly
Despite impoverished beginnings, music and a prevailing joie de vivre carried young Louis Armstrong from the streets of New Orleans to the stages of New York City, Hollywood, and Europe. The Ransomes swiftly trace Armstrong-s musical development, acquiring his first -pawnshop cornet- and apprenticing with mentor Joe Oliver; an unwelcome stint at the Colored Waif-s Home for Boys provided additional training. Quotations from Armstrong float across the pages (-When I pick up that horn, that-s all. The world-s behind me, and I don-t concentrate. On nothing but it. I love them notes-) as Ransome-s fluid watercolors bring to life both the New Orleans neighborhood Armstrong called home and his musical passion-he-s holding or playing his horn in nearly every scene. A detailed author-s note dives deeper into the performer-s life, rounding out a solid introduction to Satchmo. Ages 6-10. (Feb.)

School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3 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
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (4/1/16)
Horn Book
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (2/1/16)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Word Count: 1,168
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 182947 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: AD930L

He was born "black, poor, and lucky." The glowing story of "Satchmo"—the great jazz musician, Louis Armstrong.

Louis Armstrong has been called the most important improviser in the history of jazz. Although his New Orleans neighborhood was poor in nearly everything else, it was rich in superb music. Young Louis took it all in, especially the cornet blowing of  Joe "King" Oliver. But after a run-in with the police, 11-year-old Louis was sent away to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys where he became a disciplined musician in the school’s revered marching band.

Ultimately, he was to travel the world from Chicago to Paris and would transform jazz through his improvised singing ("scatting") and masterful trumpet playing. He played with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and other jazz greats of his day. Armstrong was the first African-American man to host a national radio show, and the first jazz musiciain to write an autobiography.

This is a joyful tribute to the virtuoso musician and buoyant personality who introduced much of the world to jazz. The author's note includes a detailed biography and resources to learn more about Louis Armstrong and jazz.

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