Ben­ny Good­man & Ted­dy Wil­son: Tak­ing the Stage as the First Black-and-White Jazz Band in History

Lesa Cline-Ran­some; James Ran­some, illus.
  • Review
By – November 17, 2014

Ben­ny Good­man played the clar­inet and Ted­dy Wil­son played the piano. That may be some­thing of an under­state­ment, but play they did! This mag­nif­i­cent pic­ture book tells the sto­ry of their his­toric jazz band and the era in which they played their music. The art is spec­tac­u­lar, with deep glo­ri­ous col­ors which meld with the poet­ic text and draw the read­er into the time, the place, and right into the music. Exten­sive end­notes tell more about the his­to­ry of Jew­ish Ben­ny and African-Amer­i­can Ted­dy, not spar­ing the read­er Goodman’s ini­tial dis­com­fort at pub­licly inte­grat­ing his band. Goodman’s Jew­ish back­ground is fea­tured. The oth­er musi­cians men­tioned are addressed in the end­notes with fur­ther bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion. A time­line is includ­ed. This is one of those books that makes the read­er want to dance. The text is too sophis­ti­cat­ed for the usu­al pic­ture book read­ers and is rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 11. These read­ers may need to be encour­aged by a par­ent or teacher to over­come their reluc­tance to pick up a pic­ture book but will be amply reward­ed if they do.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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