Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Louis Armstrong You Never Knew
Collier, James Lincoln. 2004. The Louis Armstrong You Never Knew. Scholastic.
Few people have ever risen as far in life as Louis Armstrong did. He started at the very bottom of American society. It was hardly possible to begin life in worse conditions. By the time he was sixty he was one of the most famous entertainers in the world, and probably the best known black person anywhere. In his time, perhaps only the Beatles and Elvis Presley were more celebrated performers. In 1964 his recording of "Hello, Dolly" was such a hit that it bumped one of the Beatles' most famous records off the top spot on the charts.
I loved this book. It's just a great nonfiction biography--not only is it rooted in fact, it grows and blossoms there too, not relying on fictionalized dialogue to hook readers. In five chapters, Collier covers Armstrong's life. And he does so in a way that is reader-friendly. If I was in elementary school and looking for a biography to read for a book report--written or oral--this would be a good choice. It's simple, but not too simple. Rich in detail, but not to the point where it becomes bogged down in such. It explained just enough that you got a good feeling, a good taste for what his life was like, the culture was like, but it wasn't boring. I liked learning more about New Orleans and jazz. And I liked that it touched upon race relations--segregation and prejudices. I felt I learned a lot while reading this book. It has a nice blending of photographs with illustrations. And overall, I just thought it was really well done.
What a Wonderful World
When the Saints Go Marching In
Hello Dolly (live)
Hello, Dolly (movie)
Now You Have Jazz
A Kiss to Build a Dream On
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews