Just a Lucky So-and-So: The Story of Louis Armstrong by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome

Published by Holiday House 

Summary:  Louis Armstrong considered himself to have led a lucky life, but his early days weren’t always so auspicious.  Born in The Battlefield, a tough part of New Orleans, young Louis started working at an early age to help his single mother.  He was surrounded by music, and a pawnshop cornet allowed him to begin to make his own tunes.  After shooting off a gun on New Year’s Eve, Louis was sent to reform school, where he worked his way up to bandleader.  After his stint there, he returned to his old neighborhood and pursued his career in earnest.  The book ends with him newly arrived in Chicago, being cheered on by the crowd to come forward and blow his horn.  A full-page author’s note gives more information on Armstrong’s life, and another page has resources for further research, including places to visit.  40 pages; grades 1-4.

Pros:  The large, full-color illustrations nicely complement the somewhat spare lyrical text.  The end matter gives plenty of material for researchers.

Cons:  The large number of people and places in a relatively short story was a little confusing.  Also, the quotes from Armstrong throughout the text aren’t cited.

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