Crease, Stephanie Stein. 2009. Duke Ellington: His Life In Jazz: With 21 Activities. Chicago Review Press. 148.
I enjoyed reading Duke Ellington. Not only did I learn about this legendary jazz musician, I also learned about the life and times he lived in--the society, the culture, the history, the economics, the politics. And, of course, I learned about music. (Not just his music--great as that would have been--but about music in general.) What makes this biography extra-special (in addition to the rich details) are all the extras--the photographs, yes, but perhaps more importantly the built-in activities. Activities that invite young readers--I'd say middle schoolers on up--to get involved in music and art. (The book gives a great sense of appreciation for fine arts in general.) What kinds of activities? Well, a bit of this and that. I like how it incorporates a little bit of everything--because it's a fact that everyone has different abilities, talents, skills, aptitudes. Not everyone can find the rhythm, right? But maybe they'd find that they'd be good at making a costume for a floor show or baking corn bread. The text itself was well-written. It was both informative and interesting. The book is quite good just as it is, but it would have been nice if it had included a cd of his music. That being said, using Project Playlist, you can easily find music to accompany the book.
Granted, I've got some interest heading into the reading experience. I can't quite remember when I discovered Duke Ellington, I can tell you that his music was something I took to quite quickly.
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