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Celebrate Multicultural Children’s Book Day With Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
GOOD READS WITH RONNA
is a proud participant in
Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2015
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day and we’re SO excited!! We’ve got one book from our friends at Lee and Low Books that we’re talking about today, and two more we’ll mention below that are also must-reads. But before you get the scoop about Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, learn about the origins of MCBD and help us celebrate and promote diversity in kidlit. Use the hashtag #ReadYourWorld and spread the word!
THE MISSION OF MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY:
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is to create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.
The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.
You can find the MCBD blog and links to all the other participating sites here.
REVIEW: Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
Pick an instrument, any instrument – would you pick the trombone? Well, in Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, (Lee and Low, $18.95, Ages 4-8) by Katheryn Russell-Brown with illustrations by Frank Morrison, that’s exactly what Melba Doretta Liston did and never once looked back! This eye-opening fictionalized picture book biography recounts the story of a jazz pioneer whose contribution to the music industry is presented in irresistible prose and artwork certain to get your toes tapping and fingers snapping.
Born in pre-Depression Kansas City, Melba had the music in her from an early age. In fact making music would always matter to Melba. It was easy to be influenced when “avenues were lined with jazz club, street bands, and folks harmonizing on every corner.” From blues to jazz to gospel, Melba loved it all and soaked up all the sounds around her. At age seven she chose a “shiny trombone: from the traveling music store and, with the help of her grandpa and her keen ear, Melba learned how to play it.
In the years following the Depression, things got tough financially for Melba’s mom so together the two moved to Los Angeles where Melba’s trombone talent really took off. Eventually, when she was just seventeen, Melba toured the country with trumpeter Gerald Wilson’s band. With the popularity of jazz sweeping the nation, Melba’s prowess on her beloved brass instrument stood out on stages everywhere. “She composed and arranged music, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs.”
This young woman was a musical force to be reckoned with. But the harsh realities of racial segregation she and the band experienced while touring down South meant “some white folks didn’t show good manners toward folks with brown skin.” This brought Melba to the brink of quitting, but ultimately she persevered, playing her horn with the likes of “Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and more.” She even toured briefly with Billie Holiday. Melba’s career took her around the world and garnered her numerous awards including being named Jazz Master by the National Endowment for the Arts, “the highest honor the U.S. gives to a jazz artist.”
Helpful back matter includes an Afterword, a Selected Discography and Author’s Sources. This pioneering, brass playing woman has left a legacy of music to learn and love, as well as a tale that begged to be told. I’m thrilled Russell-Brown found Melba’s inspiring story and conveyed it so beautifully. Russell-Brown’s words coupled with Morrison’s warm and spirited illustrations take us back in time so when we’re done reading we feel as if we’ve been on the road with Melba Liston, and that’s really something special!
- Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Check out Lee and Low Books today for these and other diverse books:
Lend a Hand and The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen.
RELATED ACTIVITY: Make a musical instrument with your child
Simply get an empty toilet paper roll, scissors, wax paper, a rubber band (or masking tape), fun stickers, and something sharp like the point of the scissors (NOTE: for parents to do only!). Cut a piece of the wax paper that is large enough to completely cover the hole at one end with room to spare for fastening it down. Use a rubber band or masking tape to hold the wax paper in place. One option is to make small holes in the wax paper then have your child decorate the toilet roll with stickers or patterned duct tape and try out the sound. Another option is to make one hole in the part of the toilet paper roll that is not covered by the wax paper, and no holes in the wax paper. Have your child compare the sounds these two types of kazoos make. Try making the instrument with a paper towel roll instead. Is the sound any different using a long paper roll? Will more holes cut into the toilet paper roll or paper towel rolls make the sounds change?
MORE ABOUT MULTICULTURAL CHILDREN’S BOOK DAY
MCBD Diversity Book Lists and Resources for Educators and Parents is now available.
MCBD’s new Facebook page
MCBD’s new Twitter using #ReadYourWorld
Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop
Gold Sponsors: Satya House, MulticulturalKids.com, Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof
Silver Sponsors: Junior Library Guild, Capstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books, The Omnibus Publishing
Bronze Sponsors: Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing, Rainbow Books, Author Felicia Capers, Chronicle Books, Muslim Writers Publishing, East West Discovery Press
MCBD CO-HOSTS: Here are the NINE amazing Co-Hosts
Africa to America, All Done Monkey, Educators Spin on it, Growing Book by Book, InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen, Mama Smiles, Multicultural Kid Blogs, Sprout’s Bookshelf
MCBD’s FIRST BOOK VIRTUAL BOOK DRIVE INFO: MCBD is partnering with First Book to offer a Virtual Book Drive that will help donate multicultural children’s books through their channels during the week of the event. We want to help get diversity books into the hands of kids who most need it and now we have a way to do it! The Virtual Book Drive is LIVE and can be found HERE.
CHILDREN’S BOOK COUNCIL:
MCBD is collaborating with Children’s Book Council to highlight wonderful diversity books and authors on an ongoing basis all year. Visit their website for an abundance of kidlit related information.
GOAL OF MCBD:
The MCBD team hopes to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.
This Post Has 9 Comments
Thanks so much for your great review Ronna and for covering 3 books as well! I honestly had never heard of Melba Doretta Liston before this book and was thrilled to have another strong female role model to teach my kids about!
We are so thrilled to have you join us for Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
What an enlightening and exhilarating day it’s been. Such wonderful community promoted thanks to you and Valarie. Thanks right back at you!
Melba looks like a warm story and a great introduction to jazz. As to Multicultural Children’s Book Day, let’s be the change we wish to see! I’ve got a multicultural family, and like getting to know in-laws from another culture, and cousins from around the world, multicultural books bring us together, helping make everything about a bigger and bigger “us.”
Could not agree with you more, Mary! I think you’d enjoy Little Melba and Her Big Trombone.
We loved this book so much – good to hear you enjoyed it too, Ronna. And a great, simple idea for an activity to do with the kiddos (one even this non-crafty mama could handle!). Thank you for a lovely review and for your support of Multicultural Children’s Book Day!
Well you’ve made my day, Mary! I agree about the craft level being easy, but fun for the whole kazooing family! Thrilled I got the chance to learn about Melba Liston. Thanks so much for stopping by. So nice to meet you.
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[…] growing up in the deep south, but thankfully she did. Price was born in 1927, just one year after Melba Doretta Liston, another musical talent. She grew up in Laurel, Mississippi to a hard-working, supportive, and […]
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