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Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

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Author: Katheryn Russell-Brown

Best Books, Kirkus Reviews
Best Books of the Year, School Library Journal
Best of the Best Books, Chicago Public Library
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Honor, American Library Association (ALA)
Notable Children's Book, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)
Best Children's Books of the Year: Outstanding Merit, Bank Street College of Education
Notable Books for a Global Society, International Literacy Association (ILA)
Amelia Bloomer Project - Feminist Task Force, American Library Association (ALA)
Best Books of the Year, Honorable Mention, The Huffington Post
Best Multicultural Books, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Books
Choices, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
NAACP Image Award Nominee, NAACP
Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction, Recommended Title, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

A biography of African American jazz virtuoso Melba Doretta Liston, a pioneering twentieth-century trombone player, composer, and music arranger at a time when few women, of any race, played brass instruments and were part of the jazz scene.

Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child, she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family's Majestic radio.

At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba's extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few.

Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Published: 07/01/2014
Pages: 40
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 0.88lbs
Size: 8.90h x 10.60w x 0.40d
ISBN: 9781600608988
Audience: Ages 9-12

Accelerated Reader:
Reading Level: 4.7
Point Value: 0.5
Interest Level: Lower Grade
Quiz #/Name: 171228 / Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Award: Coretta Scott King Award - Honor Book
Award: Georgia Children's Book Award - Finalist
Award: Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens - Recommended

Review Citation(s):
Kirkus Reviews 06/15/2014
School Library Journal 07/01/2014 pg. 122
Publishers Weekly 07/21/2014
Booklist 09/15/2014 pg. 51
Horn Book Magazine 11/01/2014 pg. 127
Kirkus Best Picture Books 11/15/2014 pg. 71
PW Children's Starred Reviews 12/01/2014 pg. 55
SLJ's Best Books 12/01/2014 pg. 28
Hornbook Guide to Children 01/01/2015 - Superior,Well Above Average

About the Author

Katheryn Russell-Brown is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida. She grew up in a family of music lovers, where jazz was an integral part of the sounds of daily life. A radio broadcast in 2008 about Liston inspired Russell-Brown to research the musician and eventually to write Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, her first picture book. Russell-Brown lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her family. Visit her online at

Frank Morrison has illustrated numerous award-winning books, including the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor winner Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, published by Lee & Low Books. Before becoming an illustrator, Morrison was a graffiti artist and b-boy. Morrison lives with his family in Georgia. You can learn more about him at

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