Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Non-Fiction
Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong

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

Spring 2016 Non-Fiction
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Lesa Cline Ransome
Illustrator: James Ransome
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3428-2
Hardcover Price: $16.95

Born in 1901, Louis Armstrong grew up in a poor New Orleans neighborhood where he was steeped in the rich musical heritage of the African-American community including "brass bands, funeral marches, honky-tonks on Saturday night, church services on Sunday morning." A happy child, who considered himself lucky in all circumstances - including brushes with the law - Louis loved observing and listening to the musicians who played ragtime music in the hall across the street. He especially admired Joe "King" Oliver who could "outblow and outperform any horn player in all New Orleans."

Louis bought a used cornet from a pawnshop and played on the streets with friends who dubbed him "Satchelmouth" for his wide smile. (This was later shortened to "Satchmo," his lifelong nickname.) At 11, one of his scrapes with the law landed him in the "Colored Waif's Home for Boys" where his musical ability was fostered by Mr. Davis, the leader of the school's much admired marching band. Louis himself said, "Me and music got married at the home." Returning to New Orleans at fourteen, Louis attached himself to Joe Oliver who not only became his musical mentor, but also took him to Chicago, New York, introducing Louis to the larger world where he ultimately outshone his mentor and all others on his trumpet.

With brilliant watercolors spilling across double-page spreads, the artist comes as close to capturing the sounds of Louis Armstrong as is humanly possible in a book. The happy spirit of this musical legend is captured in this linear biography by the cheerful prose and the beautiful, bright illustrations.

Kemie Nix   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children's Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents' Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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