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If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong Paperback – August 25, 2002

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Orgill tells the story of a boy overcoming incredible odds to achieve his dream, without becoming too dark, maudlin or even overly hopeful, and Jenkins's dark palette looks the way jazz sounds. Ages 5-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Grade 2-5. According to an author's note, many stories exist about the esteemed Louis Armstrong, especially in regard to his first encounters with a trumpet. To tell a story that is as "true as possible" to Armstrong's character, Orgill has sifted through his autobiographies and through various biographies to fashion this musically charged tale. Young Louis's love of song and dance is well known in the streets of New Orleans, but his exuberance gets the best of him one wild New Year's Eve, and after shooting an old .38 into the air, he finds himself in the Colored Waifs' Home. There, a Mr. Davis takes an interest; he makes the boy learn rhythm on a drum and practice "mellow tones" on an old bugle before giving him a cornet?but finally, Louis's dream comes true. As the story ends, Louis leads a band down Liberty street and, as we know, marches into musical history. A more hardened tale than Alan Schroeder and Floyd Cooper's admittedly "fictional re-creation" Satchmo's Blues (Doubleday, 1996), this account is probably closer to the truth. Using the two books together, however, could give teachers a great platform for discussing truth in biography. In tune with the text, Jenkins peoples the story with a rich array of faces and backs the characters with montages of swirling colors in acrylic, pastel, and spray paint to create a setting that pulses with the sounds of jazz.?Barbara Elleman, Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 7
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 061825076X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618250769
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #525,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dominic Powell on January 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a bit long for younger children, but works well for 3-4th graders. If you paraphrase the wording, it might work better to keep the kids' attention. I teach music classes and found this helped the students. There is a part of book that says Louis fired his Uncle's gun off in the street for New Years, so we had to discuss why it was dangerous to do that. Luckily, the book also describes Louis' getting caught by the police in the act. This is a touching story which I hope is true. I'm not sure whether it is or not, but the end is very moving and my students were engaged by it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
One of the best picture book biographies I've seen, the rich text and earthy pictures evoke the soul of the jazz artist, pictured here as a boy. A lovely introduction to a jazz master for very young readers from six years and older.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeri Lynn Downs on March 18, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a music teacher in an elementary school where there are many cultures represented. I wanted to add to my collection of stories for children, using February and Black History Month as the backdrop and music as the subject matter. One of the books that met this need was "If I Only Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong". The book sheds light on the hardships Louis had as a child and his love of music. It is candid in telling why he was sent to a boy's home (without getting too serious) and how he had to learn patience to earn his horn. The pictures are expressive and my students thoroughly enjoyed the story. I added some recordings to complete the lesson, especially "Dippermouth Blues" which gets it's name from a nickname of his as a child; and that is mentioned in the book. I used this for grades 3-5 and my students enjoyed it, learned about Louis as a boy and how he overcame many troubles for the love of his music. It is a welcome addition to my children's collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ohioan on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a well-told story about how Louis Armstrong learned to play the cornet when he was a boy in New Orleans. The story moves at just the right pace, neither too fast nor too slow, and the author captures how young Louis must have felt hearing music all around him but being too poor to participate.
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