Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself.

READ REVIEW

JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO

THE STORY OF LOUIS ARMSTRONG

Cline-Ransome traces Armstrong’s storied arc, from an impoverished New Orleans childhood to his apex as a giant of jazz.

The episodic narrative, studded with place names, locates in “Little Louis’ ” tough early days the keys to his musical education. Louis helps his family by hauling coal, selling newspapers, and picking through garbage. New Orleans’ omnipresent music permeates his being: “Every day, outside his window, Little Louis listened up and down the streets, to the music of brass bands, funeral marches, honky-tonks on Saturday nights.” Captivated by brilliant cornetist Joe “King” Oliver, Louis buys a pawn-shop cornet, harmonizes in a street band—and runs afoul of the police once too often. Sent to the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys, Louis “missed his mama, his sister, and his cornet.” The facility has a performing band, however—and Louis wins over its teacher. In one of several interspersed (but undocumented) quotes, Armstrong quips: “Me and music got married at the home.” Released at 14, he apprentices with Oliver, plays in his bands, and follows him to Chicago and beyond. Ransome’s vivid, saturated paintings depict cityscapes and riverboats, framing Armstrong in windows and rectangular insets, and capturing the music’s joy in paradegoers’ faces. A nuanced author’s note features a detail about Louis’ uncorrected embouchure, and resources include eight well-annotated websites for multimedia study.

Upbeat and celebratory—like Pops himself. (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3428-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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