Ben's Trumpet

by Rachel Isadora

Paperback, 1991





Greenwillow Books (1991), Edition: Reprint, 40 pages


Ben wants to be a trumpeter, but plays only an imaginary instrument until one of the musicians in a neighborhood night club discovers his ambition.

User reviews

LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
A young boy, who is - by the look of it - growing up in the 1920s, Ben loves to listen to the music spilling out of the local jazz joint, the Zig Zag Club, and to imagine that he too can play the trumpet. He watches the musicians, and feels the music. He 'plays' for his family on his invisible trumpet, and even receives a compliment from the club trumpeter, whose own playing is the "cat's meow." But when the neighborhood boys ridicule his imaginary instrument, Ben's trumpeting is at an end. Or is it...?

A Caldecott Honor book from 1980, this brief picture-book was chosen as one of our March selections, over in the Picture-Book Club to which I belong, where our theme this month is music. But although its themes are appealing, and its narrative - despite its brevity - engaging, the best part of Rachel Isadora's Ben's Trumpet is the dramatic black-and-white artwork, with its bold silhouettes, zigzagging lines, and curved figures. The illustrations here really come alive, and were well deserving of the honors they won! Recommended to all young would-be musicians and jazz lovers, as well as to anyone who appreciates a skilled melding of word and image.
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LibraryThing member mfowleramato
Rachel Isadora's story, Ben's Trumpet, is the tale of a young boy who longs to play the trumpet. Each day, Ben watches the musicians at the Zig Zag Jazz Club practice their music. Each night, he sits outside the club pretending to play along with the bands. After being teased by his peers, Ben decides to stop practicing on his pretend trumpet. Recognizing this, the trumpeter from the club makes efforts to lift Ben's spirit, inviting the young boy to play a real trumpet.

Rachel Isadora's use of language and vivacious black and white illustrations communicate the feeling of jazz! In addition to illustrating the key scenes, Isadora makes use of whimsical patterns, not unlike what you would expect to hear when visiting a jazz club. Isadora was recognized for with a Caldecott Honor for Ben's Trumpet in 1999.

This book could be used in kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms. It encourages students to use their imaginations, communicating that dreams can come true. This book allows students to think about the dreams that they have. After reading Ben’s Trumpet, a classroom teacher might have the students talk and write about what they would most like to do in their lives. This lesson could be enhanced by making note of the students' interests and inviting visitors to the classroom who have the skills the students wish to learn.
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LibraryThing member conuly
This book, first of all, has amazing black and white illustrations. I wish I had half the artistic ability shown here! Truthfully, I'm surprised it only won a Caldecott Honor instead of the actual award - but then, I haven't seen the winner for that year.

I love the story, too, though that's secondary. A boy loves the jazz band by his house, and pretends to practice on his trumpet until he's rudely told he doesn't HAVE a trumpet... but his hero fixes that by starting trumpet lessons with him, a nice deal if I ever got one. It's a good little story, but it's outshone by its own artwork.… (more)
LibraryThing member nnicolic
Ben has a yearning in his soul to become a jazz trumpet player. His imagination and yearning for this reality create an imaginary trumpet that Ben plays in every spare moment. His pretend trumpet playing catches the attention of both Ben's peers and of the trumpet player at the Zig Zag Club. Rachel Isadora brings to life the passion of the Jazz Age and the yearning of a youthful talent. --a story of desire and perseverance… (more)
LibraryThing member netaylor
Ben's Trumpet is a wonderful story about a little boy whose whose passion is jazz music, especially the trumpet. Ben plays his imaginary trumpet and listens to the music from the zig zag Jazz club. His imaginary trumpet comes to life when the trumpet player at the jazz club takes Ben under his wing and Ben's dream comes true.… (more)
LibraryThing member klsulliv
How many people used to have imaginary things they would play with? Well, Ben had an imaginary trumpet that he would play because he wanted to be a part of the Jazz band he always heard. He would play his air trumpet for his family and outside in the open for others. One day, children were taunting Ben for playing his air trumpet. He stopped playing when the children told him he did not even have a trumpet. This discouraged him and his creative imagination. Then, one day, the man that plays the trumpet for the Jazz band asked where is his trumpet because he noticed Ben was not playing. Ben said he did not have one. So, the man brought him to his studio and gave him a trumpet to play. This book also reflects upon the mentor, student relationship. The man knew that the boy loved to play the trumpet or at least wanted to learn how to play, and he actually took his time out with the boy to give him a trumpet to play and spend time with him.… (more)
LibraryThing member Jill.Barrington
A young boy, named Ben, enjoys the jazz music he hears around his neighborhood. Eventually, a local musician to whom Ben looks up takes Ben under his wing and teaches him how to play the trumpet.

The book would be useful in a discussion about activities we enjoy and participate in, and how our interests began.… (more)
LibraryThing member kloupe1
This was a great book. I liked not only the message from this book, but most of all I liked how the illustrations really helped the words push along. This book also teaches children a lesson that they can be whatever they put their minds to and to just believe in themselves.
LibraryThing member khand
Ben's trumpet is a book about a young boys dream to become a jazz musician. It teaches children to not worry about their background, and pursue their dreams.
LibraryThing member abruser
"Ben's Trumpet" by Rachel Isadora tells the story of a yound boy who discovers his love for Jazz music. Ben does not have a trumpet but often attends the Jazz Clubs and pretends to play music. His peers make fun of him for pretending to play without a real intrument. Soon, one of the Jazz musicians from th eclub gives Ben a trumpet and becomes the musician that he always imagines himself to be. The illustrations are beautiful and unique expressing emotion through careful and deliberate usage of lines.… (more)
LibraryThing member Eclouse
Ben loves to listen to the jazz music coming from the night club down the street. He watches and pretends that he is the trumpet player. He plays all day long, until one day some kids make fun of him and it discourages him. Then the trumpet player from the club comes to find him and let him play a real trumpet. A great book about confidence.… (more)
LibraryThing member bsalomon
A young African American boy desires to become a jazz player. He wants to play the trumpet like others in his neighborhood. The illustrations is amazing, even though it is all black and white. Isadora intersects the negative and positive space to create great illustrations. A great read aloud book.
LibraryThing member ChristinPina
A little boy named Ben is always going to the Zig Zag Jazz club to listen to the music. Because of the music in his head he plays his trumpet to his family and friends. His friends make fun of him because he really doesn’t have a trumpet but later gets one from the trumpeter at the club.

Personal Reaction:
I really like the book it shows how a little boy has passion about jazz music and wants to play the trumpet even though he doesn’t have one. This book reminds me of when I was younger and loved to play my flute everywhere I went. This book received the Caldecott award for the images but I really didn’t like the pictures they were all black and white.

Classroom extension ideas:
1.) Have the children draw something they love to play with and have them share it.
2.) If in a music class have the children explore all the music instruments and have them choose one that is best for them and have your own little band.
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LibraryThing member HopeMiller123
This book is about a young boy that loves the trumpet, so much that he plays an imaginary one all the time. He admires a jazz club near his home all the time and wishes he could be the cool, jazzy trumpet player he sees. One day the children make fun of him for playing his imagnary trumpet and Ben's feelings get hurt and he stops playing. Soon after, he comes across the trumpet player from the jazz club and at the end is invited to come play his real trumpet for a while. This book shows how you should not give up on your passions just because you can't afford to have the tools involved in that passion and also touches on how teasing can make someone feel.… (more)
LibraryThing member mmgomez1
This is a very creative picture book that utilizes the colors white and black only! A young boy loves to watch a trumpet player play at a local jazz club during their practice. When the boy goes home he always pretends like he is playing a trumpet. The boy dreams of being just like the trumpet player. At the end of the book, the young boy meets his idol and gets to play a real trumpet!… (more)
LibraryThing member csloan
This is a great picture book, it is all done in black and white. It is done with lines and with dots. It is also a great story of a boy who loves music. This would be a great book to read to your music class.
LibraryThing member GWES.Second
Ben plays an imaginary trumpet and "accompanies" the jazz band playing nearby.
LibraryThing member MalissaLojszczyk
Ben is a young boy who dreams of being a trumpet player. Everywhere Ben goes, so does his imaginary trumpet. Ben meets the jazz trumpeter that plays at the club across the street from his building. After some other kids make fun of Ben for playing a pretend trumpet, he is cheered up by the jazz musician wholet's Ben play his real trumpet. This book is about following your heart and believing in your dreams. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough.… (more)
LibraryThing member emleonard
Great book with different contrast and use of imaginations. Through the pictures you can see the movement of the band. I love how the Ben pretends to play the trumpet throughout the book.
LibraryThing member brittneydufrene
This story is about a boy named Ben who really wants jazz trumpet player. But he does not have a real instrument he an imaginary one. until one of the musicians in a neighborhood night club discovers his ability and shows Ben how to play.
LibraryThing member alyssabuzbee
This book really showed me the power of illustrations to move a story along. Ben wants to play the trumpet, but he has no instrument. This book teaches children that if they want something badly enough, they can go after it.
LibraryThing member lekenned
Awesome illustrations! A story about a boy who wants to play the trumpet. He pretends that he is playing until one day one of his favorite trumpet players see's him and shows him how to play.
LibraryThing member JTNguyen
This book is about a little boy that dreams of playing a trumpet. He doesn't actually own a trumpet but he would pretend like he is playing one every chance he gets. His dreams get trumped on by kids on the streets because he isn't really playing a trumpet and that it is just make believe. Unexpectedly, a real trumpet player that he admires offer him to play a real trumpet.… (more)
LibraryThing member ckarmstr1
This book is all about the art! The art makes the book come to life. "Ben's Trumpet" is about a boy who doesn't own a trumpet, but he plays his imaginary one. He gets made fun of by the kids at school, but his mentor takes care of him and encourages him to continue playing his "trumpet." The artwork is phenomenal, and this story would be nothing without the illustrations.… (more)
LibraryThing member jeffbarrois
This book does a great job of showing a young boy, and his great love for music. He later meets one of his musical idols at the jazz club nearby. The art in this book is absolutely fantastic; the visuals create almost a visual soundtrack to recreate the jazz music featured in the book.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

40 p.; 9.56 inches


0688109888 / 9780688109882


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