This simple chapter book takes an episode from the life of jazz great Louis Armstrong and makes it accessible to children. At the same time, it provides a glimpse into Armstrong’s positive relationship with a Jewish family in New Orleans, making the book of particular interest for Jewish readers.
As a young boy, Louis worked on a junk wagon owned by the Jewish Karnofsky family. He attracted customers to the wagon with his burgeoning musical talent by playing on a simple toy horn. The incident related in this book shows how the toy was lost, and how the kindly Karnofskys helped him obtain his first real horn.
Kimmel brings the characters to life in this engaging tale. The rough life of Storyville is whitewashed, but this is appropriate in the context of a book for youngsters. The focus remains on the relationships between Louis and his loved ones, and on his dreams of becoming a great musician. The book makes an excellent introduction to Louis Armstrong as a famous personality and to the importance of jazz in the American experience. At the same time, it provides an encouraging look at interracial and interfaith relations in our history. An unusual but desirable selection for Jewish libraries serving children. Ages 7 – 10.