A Horn for Louis
Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by James Bernardin
Ages 8 to 10
Random House, 2005, 0-375-83252-1
Louis is only seven years old and yet every morning he has to get up early to go to work in a junkyard. Often Louis dreams of a day when he won’t have to get up in the cold, a day when he will have a proper house to live in and a proper bed to sleep in. Louis also dreams that one day he will have a real trumpet to play and that he will be a musician like the great trumpet player Joe Oliver. For now he has to make do with a dented tin horn which he uses to attract customers who might have junk to sell. Mind you Louis plays the horn very well but it doesn’t have valves and it just isn’t the real thing. Louis knows that he, a poor little black boy from New Orleans, may never have enough money to buy a real trumpet.
Then one day Louis’s tin horn is destroyed. He and his friend Alex Karnofsky go looking for a real trumpet, hoping they can find one that Louis can afford but all the trumpets that they look at are far too expensive. Then Alex and his family surprise Louis by giving him a cornet as a Hanukkah gift. Louis wants the cornet very badly but he does not feel he can accept such an expensive gift from his friends. Thankfully Louis finds a way to keep the cornet without having to feel that he is taking charity.
This wonderfully written account is based on the real life experiences of the great jazz musician, Louis Armstrong. Readers will get a real sense for what Louis’ boyhood life in New Orleans might have been like. They will see what a vibrant, multicultural, and musical city New Orleans was. Jazz fans of all ages will give thanks that little Louis got a helping hand when he needed it the most.
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