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WHEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG TAUGHT ME SCAT by Muriel Harris Weinstein

WHEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG TAUGHT ME SCAT

by Muriel Harris Weinstein, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8118-5131-2
Publisher: Chronicle

This ebullient tribute to Armstrong as scat innovator opens with a girl and her mom dancing to Satchmo’s scatting on the radio. Scat singing inspires the young narrator, who dreams of Armstrong, inviting her to improvise on—what? “ ‘How about bubble gum?’/ ‘Sure, bubble gum’s hip.’ ” Six ensuing spreads crank out scat-influenced verse that, after establishing the tempo (“Chew-itee / Chew-itee / Chew-itee / CHOP / Crackity / Snappity / Poppity! / POP!!!”), tangles it in anapestic jungle metaphor (“…lilac moon / butterfly’s cocoon / baboon’s nose / hippo’s toes”). Departing the dream’s careening visual and textual imagery, the girl floats back to wakefulness (having blown a bubble as big as a “hot air balloon” with cacophonic results). Enthusiastic, infectious neighborhood scatting ensues. Christie’s gorgeous full-bleed pictures blend touching detail (Armstrong’s scarred lips, the girl’s fuzzy bedroom slippers) with swaths of vibrant, opaque color. Three typefaces, alternating upper- and lower-case, match the verve of the agreeably frenetic text. One quibble: In an appended note on scat, Weinstein unequivocally states, “…before Louis Armstrong, no one sang it professionally.” Jazz scholars might disagree. (biographical note) (Picture book. 4-8)