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Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra Paperback


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; 1 edition (December 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786814209
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786814206
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 8.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, "King of the Keys," was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C. "He was a smooth-talkin', slick-steppin', piano-playin' kid," writes master wordsmith Andrea Pinkney in the rhythmic, fluid, swinging prose of this excellent biography for early readers. It was ragtime music that first "set Duke's fingers to wiggling." He got back to work and taught himself to "press on the pearlies." Soon 19-year-old Duke was playing compositions "smoother than a hairdo sleeked with pomade" at parties, pool halls, country clubs, and cabarets. Skipping from D.C. to 1920s Harlem, "the place where jazz music ruled," Duke and his small band called the Washingtonians began performing in New York City clubs, including the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington and his Orchestra was officially born. By 1943, Duke Ellington--writer of more than 1000 compositions, including ballet and film scores, orchestral suites, musicals, and choral works--had made it all the way to Carnegie Hall.

We applaud this talented husband-and-wife team--award-winning illustrator Brian Pinkney and writer Andrea Pinkney--for making music fly in this fantastic tribute to a jazz legend. Andrea does an extraordinary job of translating music into words, with blues "deeper than the deep blue sea" and "hot-buttered bob, with lots of sassy-cool tones," while her husband visually interprets the movement of music as spirals, waves, and swirls of color, prepared as scratchboard renderings with luma dyes, gouache, and oil paint. Andrea writes, "Toby let loose on his sleek brass sax, curling his notes like a kite tail in the wind. A musical loop-de-loop, with a serious twist," while Brian paints those curling notes, the loop-de-loops, and the kite sailing up to the New York City skyline. Young readers will enjoy the rhythm and beauty of the story itself, and may even be inspired to give Raffi a rest and swing with the Duke! (Great read-aloud, ages 4 to 8) --Karin Snelson, Amazon.com Kids editor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5AA royal introduction to the piano prince. Told in a swingy conversational tone and highlighting the musician's childhood, early ragtime days, and stellar rise to popularity, playing at the Cotton Club and, later, Carnegie Hall, this is a jazzy treat. It is rare to find text that describes music so well. Phrases such as "sassy ride on his cymbal," "musical stream," and "purple dash of brass" carry the auditory experiences of the Duke's music right off the page. Young readers will find more than just a few facts here. They will learn what Duke Ellington did for the jazz world, how his music was played, and the legacy he left behind. Brian Pinkney's distinctive scratchboard, gouache and oil paintings are a harmonious complement to Andrea Pinkney's text. Bright, wild colors on soft neon backgrounds are beautifully balanced with black-and-white highlights. It is the blending of words, symbols, and pictures that bring this subject to life. A page of biographical information and impressive source notes conclude the presentation. This book swings. Don't miss it.ABeth Tegart, Oneida City Schools, NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I am an elementary school music teacher & I ordered this book for my classroom.
musicteacher
Being a relatively new reader of children's books, I tend to go about my systematic reading of all good picture books out there in a backwards manner.
E. R. Bird
Andrea Davis Pinkney's text is well complemented by the rich, colorful illustrations by her husband and collaborator, Brian Pinkney.
Michael J. Mazza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I teach 3rd grade at a very "white" private school. My students absolutely LOVED this story, asked questions galore when it was done, oooo'd and ahhh'd over the amazing illustrations. The wonderful story and the artwork practically made it possible to hear the music.
At the same time, I wouldn't hesitate to read this story to older students, even in the upper grades. The book provides in-depth biographical information--there is nothing babyish about it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bill Schwartz (wlschwartz@alum.mit.edu) on August 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For my 5 and 1/2 year old musician son, it was a glorious experience. The illustrations are warm and convey a sense of the music and the mood. The dancers leap off of the page.
The words are very rhythmic and make you want to sing out as you are reading them.
My one complaint is that when I turned to the last page, I wanted to hear "Take the A Train" play.
Bravo to the Pinkneys!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Volkert Volkersz on June 14, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading the Pinkney's "Duke Ellington" to a first grade class in our predominantly white rural school northeast of Seattle. Being trained as a musician, but now working as a librarian, I loved the way this text really swings. When I noticed much of the slang was going over the heads of the children, I'd ask them if they knew what certain words meant. Interestingly, the one African-American girl in the class was hip to most of the jive.
Sure some of the terminology went right past these kids, but they got into the groove, which is carried along soulfully by the vibrant illustrations. Like another reviewer here, when I was done reading this to the kids, I wanted to hear "Take the 'A' Train." Fortunately I had a CD of "Duke Ellington's 16 Most Requested Songs" sitting in my library, so I popped it in, and these kids were a-hoppin' and a-boppin'.
I think next time, I'll play the CD first. Hopefully, I'll be able to settle 'em down afterwards to hear this jazzy biography.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "gritskidz" on September 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This beautiful picture book biography recounts the life and career of jazz musician, Edward Kennedy Ellington -- better known to all as the Duke.
When the Duke's parents enrolled him in piano lessons for the very first time, he flat out did not want to go. At that time he had visions of playing baseball; but his parents insisted that he learn to play the piano. The music lessons were slow and not a lot of fun. It wasn't long before he quit taking lessons altogether and kissed the piano goodbye. Little did he know then that the melodious rhythms of Ragtime would draw him back to this instrument again and lead to his success as a great musician, composer, and orchestra leader!
Andrea Davis Pinkney does an outstanding job sharing the Duke's story with young readers. Her husband, Brian Pinkney, matches her wonderful text with vibrate illustrations, which translate the Duke's music into a series of bold colored spirals, waves, curls, and swirls that literally leap off of the pages of the book! Without a doubt, this husband and wife collaboration will guide readers in appreciating the rhythm and beat of the Duke's life and music. This book is truly a musician's delight!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on April 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Duke Ellington" is a biography of the legendary composer. The book is directed towards younger readers. Andrea Davis Pinkney's text is well complemented by the rich, colorful illustrations by her husband and collaborator, Brian Pinkney.
The book begins with Ellington's childhood, and describes his early interest in music and the beginning of his career. The Pinkneys portray his triumph at the Cotton Club, his musical partnership with Billy Strayhorn, and other aspects of his life and career. The book concludes with the triumphant premiere of Ellington's great composition "Black, Brown, and Beige" at Carnegie Hall in New York.
One of the aspects of the book that I like best is Andrea Pinkney's use of hip slang that recalls the era being portrayed. Example: "Yeah, those solos were kickin'. Hot-buttered bop, with lots of sassy-cool tones." And Brian Pinkney's illustrations combine vibrant color with an appealing "antiqued" look. Overall, an excellent educational book for young readers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Plotkin on February 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an amazing book about Duke Ellington. The language of the book is delightful. It sends you on a voyage back to the early 1900's and you can practically hear Duke Ellington and his band playing. Elementary school children will love this book. It will expose them to a prominent African-American and a musical era that they might never hear about until they are much older. This book contains absolutely beautiful illustrations that add to the joyous feeling conveyed by this story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By kathie on February 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
What an excellent book. My son forced his dad to take him out to buy some Duke Ellington music after we read this book to him and he's only 4 1/2 years old! We were lucky enough to meet the Pinkney's and their baby boy at the epcot center in disney a couple of weeks ago and they are such a wonderful couple. Our son was delighted to meet his favourite authors and to have his book autographed. I am going to buy every book they write. If your kids are into music, you should also buy "max found two sticks" by Brian Pinkney.
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