Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (Book & Cassette)
This Caldecott Honor winner introduces children to the “King of the Keys,” that “Piano Prince,” Duke Ellington. Though Duke Ellington learned to play piano as a boy (forced into lessons by his mother and father), it wasn’t until he heard ragtime that he fell in love with making music on the piano. Later, playing the swank Cotton Club in Harlem, and heard all over the country by radio, Duke and his Orchestra became world famous. His name and his sound have since become synonymous with jazz’s swing era. Andrea Davis Pinkney’s swinging, sassy words and Brian Pinkney’s jazzy, rainbow-colored scratchboard illustrations capture the rhythm and energy of Duke’s music. This dazzling book is augmented by Forest Whitaker’s superb reading against a backdrop of Duke Ellington’s music on the accompanying audiocassette. Though there is energy and movement in the Pinkney’s telling of the Duke’s musical career, Whitaker takes his time, his smooth voice conveying a cool, hep-cat feel. The original recordings of Duke and his orchestra interwoven with original music by Joel Goodman take the listener back to the glorious Jazz Age. So as not to miss Brian Pinkney’s stunning illustrations, children can read along as they listen, to either side one with page-turning prompts, or uninterrupted on side two. Look for this gem at your local library or bookstore, or you can order it directly from Weston Woods by calling 1-800-243-5020.