LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE by Katheryn Russell-Brown
Kirkus Star

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE

Age Range: 4 - 8
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great.

Picking up the trombone at 7, the little girl teaches herself to play with the support of her Grandpa John and Momma Lucille, performing on the radio at 8 and touring as a pro at just 17. Both text and illustrations make it clear that it’s not all easy for Melba; “The Best Service for WHITES ONLY” reads a sign in a hotel window as the narrative describes a bigotry-plagued tour in the South with Billie Holiday. But joy carries the day, and the story ends on a high note, with Melba “dazzling audiences and making headlines” around the world. Russell-Brown’s debut text has an innate musicality, mixing judicious use of onomatopoeia with often sonorous prose. Morrison’s sinuous, exaggerated lines are the perfect match for Melba’s story; she puts her entire body into her playing, the exaggerated arch of her back and thrust of her shoulders mirroring the curves of her instrument. In one thrilling spread, the evening gown–clad instrumentalist stands over the male musicians, her slide crossing the gutter while the back bow disappears off the page to the left. An impressive discography complements a two-page afterword and a thorough bibliography.

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Lee & Low
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2014




BEST PICTURE BOOKS OF 2014 THAT CELEBRATE DIVERSITY:

ChildrenASHLEY BRYAN'S PUPPETS by Ashley  Bryan
by Ashley Bryan
ChildrenGRANDFATHER GANDHI by Arun Gandhi
by Arun Gandhi
ChildrenCALL ME TREE / LLÁMAME  ÁRBOL by Maya Christina Gonzalez
by Maya Christina Gonzalez
ChildrenKING FOR A DAY by Rukhsana Khan
by Rukhsana Khan

MORE BY FRANK MORRISON

ChildrenSTARSTRUCK by Kathleen Krull
by Kathleen Krull
ChildrenHOW SWEET THE SOUND by Carole Boston Weatherford
by Carole Boston Weatherford
ChildrenTHE ADVENTURES OF WRONG MAN AND POWER GIRL! by C. Alexander London
by C. Alexander London

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

ChildrenOSCAR LIVES NEXT DOOR by Bonnie Farmer
by Bonnie Farmer
ChildrenJAZZ AGE JOSEPHINE by Jonah Winter
by Jonah Winter
ChildrenTHE LITTLE PIANO GIRL by Ann Ingalls
by Ann Ingalls