Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Louis Armstrong

Louis Armstrong

Judith Pinkerton Josephson
For ages 7 to 9
Lerner Publishing Group, 2004   ISBN: 978-0822571698

Louis Armstrong grew up in a poor part of New Orleans. He lived with his mother and sister and he did his best to earn a little money to help his mother out. One of the jobs he got was working for a Jewish family. The Karnofskys were kind to Louis, feeding him meals and even lending him five dollars so that he could buy his first cornet. Mrs. Karnofsky used to sing to Louise and she helped to nurture his love for music.

In 1913 Louis was arrested for firing a gun in the air on New Year's Eve. He was sent to a special institution for "troubled black boys" and though he was distraught at first, he soon came to appreciate his time there because there was a music teacher at the school who taught Louis how to play the cornet, bugle, alto horn, and some percussion instruments.

When he left the boy's home Louis began to work on his career as a musician in earnest. He made friends with Joe "King" Oliver who was one of the best bandleaders in New Orleans. Joe gave Louis music lessons and odd jobs to do. Then, when Louis got better, he asked Louis to play with the band.

Some years later Joe Oliver moved to Chicago to play jazz there and he invited Louis to join him. Louis left New Orleans in the summer of 1922 and for the first time he went north.

This well written History Makers Bios book will delight anyone who has a fondness for music. The author not only tells the story of Louis Armstrong's life but she also shows her readers how special Louise was with his big smile, his laughter, his funny sense of humor, and his love of music. Armstrong knew that music was an international language and he took his jazz all over the world. He also showed the world that a black man could be an artist, and he paved the way for black musicians who came after him.