‘Play, Louis, Play!’
Author: Muriel Harris Weinstein, illustrated by Frank Morrison
When you were a little kid, you had some weird ideas.
For one thing, you were convinced that monsters lived beneath your bed or on the other side of every door. You seriously thought that if you worked hard, you could somehow gain superhero powers. And you believed that your toys could talk.
On that last one, come to think of it, you still sometimes wonder….
Imagine the stories your toys could tell! In the new book “Play, Louis, Play!” (c.2011, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, $15.99 / $20.00 Canada, 128 pages) by Muriel Harris Weinstein, illustrated by Frank Morrison, a young boy’s musical instrument talks about a longtime friendship.
Growing up in the Back O’Town—the roughest, toughest part of New Orleans—little Louis Armstrong didn’t have much to call his own. He didn’t have shoes, so he walked the streets of New Orleans barefoot. He didn’t have much of an education because the books at his African American school were old and tattered. Louis barely even had a home: He lived with his grandmother because his Mama worked all the time.
But Louis didn’t complain. He had friends, his family, and he had music.
Louis loved music more than anything in the world. He paid attention to sounds all around him, including the tunes that drifted from neighborhood nightclubs. He looked forward to Sundays so he could sing at church, and his body jiggled with music for the rest of the week. Louis even dreamed of owning this battered old horn in a pawnshop window. One day, that horn would be his.
The horn knew, down deep, that it would belong to Louis someday, too. It waited patiently, and it noticed when Louis came by, just to wish.
Louis wasn’t afraid of a day’s work, and he carefully saved his money. One day, a friend who recognized the music in Louis’ soul gave the boy two dollars and fifty cents. Louis was excited because he knew he could save the other half of the cost of the horn—and he did. Soon, he was making music all over New Orleans.
Years later, when Louis Armstrong was famous and had fancy, expensive horns, the one he loved the most was his first. It traveled the world with him, and it never let him down. His first horn, bought for $5 at a pawn shop, was his best friend forever.
Got a kid whose fingers and feet never stop tapping a tune? Then he’ll make joyful noise when you hand him a copy of this book.
From the perspective of a tarnished old horn, author Muriel Harris Weinstein tells the story of a boy who couldn’t hide the music inside him. I loved the feel of Weinstein’s story; in fact, “Play, Louis, Play!” practically hops with a skittly-skat spirit that young jazz fans will really enjoy. Add in a few jumpin’-jive illustrations by Frank Morrison, and you’ve got a book that’s the cat’s pajamas, Jack.
If your 7-to-10-year-old budding musician can handle a chapter book, here’s one to try. “Play, Louis, Play” is a book she’ll be talking about.
Many, many years from now you’re going to be a major-league ballplayer.
Or a concert pianist. Or maybe a ballerina, or a singer with a band.
That’s because you spend a lot of time practicing. Although it’s sometimes hard and not always fun, practice makes perfect, and you want to be as perfect as possible when you’re a ballplayer, pianist, ballerina, or singer.
Truthfully, the bad news came as no surprise.
Your Mom hadn’t been feeling well lately, and for weeks you’d heard your parents whispering. You knew she was having some tests done. Still, when they finally told you she had cancer, you couldn’t believe it. You cried for 20 minutes, ran out of the house, kicked the door, or just quietly went to your room to think.
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana — One minute, a man stands at the outskirts of a packed parade route. The next, he charges toward them.
The scene is part of dramatic surveillance camera images of a shooting that turned a festive New Orleans Mother’s Day parade into chaos and renewed concerns about crime in the city.
The images, released by police Monday, show the panicked crowd scrambling for cover. The man runs the other way, leaving scattered bicycles and bodies on the ground behind him.
The song always pops up when you least expect it.
There you are, minding your own business, you hear a few notes, and you’re pulled back to a wonderful-horrible time, starry dreams, laughter, bitterness, love lost. That old love song might be just a “precious melody,” but it almost brings you to your knees.
Six o’clock, right on the nose.
That’s when your family sat down for the evening meal when you were a kid, and nobody dared be late.
Back then, Dad sat on one end of the table, Mom on the other, and you ate what was put in front of you.