Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Once Upon A Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman

Once Upon A Time in Chicago: The Story of Benny Goodman

Jonah Winter
Illustrator:  Jeanette Winter 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Hyperion, 2000   ISBN: 978-0786804627

Benny Goodman was born in a very poor part of Chicago. One of twelve children there was never that much money to go around no matter how hard Benny?s father David worked. Though the people in Benny?s neighbourhood did not have much, though their clothes had lots of patches, one thing they did have was music because music, if you had an instrument to play, was free for all.

Wanting to give his children more opportunities that he had had David Goodman took three of his sons to the local synagogue to learn how to play in the band. One of the three boys was Benny and he got to play the clarinet. A quiet and shy little boy, Benny soon came to love his instrument and became an excellent player. He also grew to love the new music that was all the rage at the time - jazz.

Benny was only fourteen when he began to play in the nightclubs of Chicago and soon he was famous and paid very well for his playing.

This excellent picture book biography about the great jazz clarinet player and band leader will appeal to all kinds of young musicians.