Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Pinkney
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- Book Summary
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