Inspiring Picture Book Biographies: Little Melba and Her Big Trombone


Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Written by: Katheryn Russell-Brown

Illustrated by: Frank Morrison

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Why I Love It:

The cover of Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is irresistible, and I love the way Melba's body stretches and curves while she holds her trombone. This little girl feels the music. Melba Liston (1926-1999) is a jazz pioneer who got a trombone when she was 7 years old. She became an accomplished composer, arranger, and performer. She worked with Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday, among others, and later worked with Quincy Jones and Diana Ross. Many challenges came with being a woman in the music industry, and she faced difficulties touring in the South during times of racial segregation. My favorite scene in this book: the scene with little Melba sleeping. With her eyes closed and her hair wrapped up, her fingers strum in the air as she dreams about music. Soft blue hues create a dreamy feel that pairs perfectly with the rhythmic language. “Notes stirred and rhythms bubble all through Melba’s home…She daydreamed about beats and lyrics. Music was on Melba’s mind at night too, when she should have been fast asleep.”

Learn more about Little Melba and Her Big Trombone on author Katheryn Russell-Brown’s website.

Author Michelle Meadows blogs about reading, writing, and publishing children’s books. Subscribe to receive Michelle’s email newsletter/blog posts.

#biography #picturebookbiography #women #AfricanAmericanhistory #music

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