Booklist (February 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 11))
Grades 3-5. With a bouncy, freewheeling tone that would make her subject proud, Weinstein tells the story of Louis Armstrong’s childhood from the point of view of his first cornet, a battered old five-dollar junker he scrimped and saved to buy from a pawn shop. He grew up poor, with a sick mother and absent father, in a rough New Orleans neighborhood. But he found a passion when he heard a new kind of music: “horns wah-wah-wahing, slow ’n’ sad drag-me-out blues, riffs on razzmatazz cornets, and jazzy beats of thumping piano keys.” And ever the affable performer in training, he never lost his face-splitting grin, no matter how bad things got as he bounced around homes until finally landing in the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys. From there, his talent shone when their band would march the streets, and eventually he got picked up by Louis Oliver’s band and went on to change music history. Morrison’s sketchy black-and-white spot art livens up an already ebullient chapter-book biography of a true artistic pioneer.