Who Was Louis Armstrong?

by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Other authorsJohn O'Brien (Illustrator), Nancy Harrison (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2004



Local notes

921 ARM



Grosset & Dunlap (2004), Edition: 11/29/04, 105 pages


If not for a stint in reform school, young Louis Armstrong might never have become a musician. It was a teacher at the Colored Waifs Home who gave him a cornet, promoted him to band leader, and saw talent in the tough kid from the even tougher New Orleans neighborhood called Storyville. But it was Louis Armstrong's own passion and genius that pushed jazz into new and exciting realms with his amazing, improvisational trumpet playing. His seventy-year life spanned a critical time in American music as well as black history.


Original language


Physical description

105 p.; 5.31 inches


0448433680 / 9780448433684



User reviews

LibraryThing member nmillsio
"Who was Louis Armstrong," which is part of the "Who Was" series by Grosset and Dunlap publishers, did not bother me in the way that many of these mass-produced children's series books do. There are some glaring issues, such as the text repeating itself, and a lack of focused sourcing. The author, Yona Zeldis McDonough, however offers very easy to read, accessible text that serves as a suitable portrait of the great musician's life. It is not an ideal reference for children (underwhelming table of contents, lack of glossary or index, no source notes, etc.), but the writing is smooth and its his story in a complete fashion. Also, I really love John O’Brien’s illustrations. They are nothing special, but the informal black and white appeal to something in me I can't quite define; maybe their rudimentary nature just kind of feels like jazz and New Orleans. Overall, it’s a decent book; I would recommend it for a parent to read to his or her child before bed.… (more)
LibraryThing member Othemts
The life of musician and icon Louis Armstrong is explored at a kids level, focusing mostly on his early life up to the 1930s. Armstrong grew up in poverty in New Orleans and spent time in a reform school although he claimed that it saved him as it introduced him to the cornet. Armstrong is celebrated both for his musical talent and innovation and for breaking down barriers for black people. It's an interesting book about a fascinating person, and it doesn't shy away from some of the nuances of race such as when critics called him an "Uncle Tom."… (more)
LibraryThing member MontzaleeW
Who Was Louis Armstrong? by Yona Zeldis McDonough is an outstanding book that captures the essence of Louis Armstrong's life, soul, and his music. This is no easy job. Lots of wonderful personal details and great sketches. Over 100 pages of info to delight. Loved this book best in the series. A true rags to riches, poor man to fame story. A book not just for kids, adults will love this book too.… (more)






(10 ratings; 4.3)
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