cover image Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong

Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by James Ransome. Holiday House, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-8234-3428-2

Despite impoverished beginnings, music and a prevailing joie de vivre carried young Louis Armstrong from the streets of New Orleans to the stages of New York City, Hollywood, and Europe. The Ransomes swiftly trace Armstrong’s musical development, acquiring his first “pawnshop cornet” and apprenticing with mentor Joe Oliver; an unwelcome stint at the Colored Waif’s Home for Boys provided additional training. Quotations from Armstrong float across the pages (“When I pick up that horn, that’s all. The world’s behind me, and I don’t concentrate. On nothing but it. I love them notes”) as Ransome’s fluid watercolors bring to life both the New Orleans neighborhood Armstrong called home and his musical passion—he’s holding or playing his horn in nearly every scene. A detailed author’s note dives deeper into the performer’s life, rounding out a solid introduction to Satchmo. Ages 6–10. (Feb.)