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A HORN FOR LOUIS by Eric Kimmel


by Eric Kimmel & illustrated by James Bernardin

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 2005
ISBN: 0-375-83252-1
Publisher: Random House

Kimmel embroiders one of the several contradictory anecdotes Louis Armstrong told about how he got his first horn into a warm Hanukkah tale with a whiff of old New Orleans. So poor that he sleeps with his Mama and little sister in a pile of quilts on the floor, seven-year-old Louis is proud of his paying job with the Karnofskys, Jewish proprietors of a junkyard. When the old tin horn on which he plays the music that wells out of him is smashed in a mishap, his affectionate employers present him with a spruced-up old cornet as a Hanukkah gift. Remembering his Mama’s dictum, that they always pay their own way rather than accept charity, he tearfully rejects the horn at first—but then works out a deal with kindly Mr. Karnofsky to pay back the horn’s cost. Culminating in a charged encounter between Louis and his idol, “King” Oliver, this simply told episode is punctuated with pointedly explicit lessons, but also animated by the joy Louis takes in hearing and performing his town’s distinctive music. (illustrations not seen) (afterword, glossary) (Fiction. 9-11)