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Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince And His Orchestra
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Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince And His Orchestra

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  1,761 ratings  ·  187 reviews
This swinging, vibrant picture book about jazz composer Edward Kennedy Ellington, better known as "Duke," is a tribute to the legend that continues to live on and influence musicians everywhere.
Paperback, Teacher's Edition, 32 pages
Published 1999 by Scholastic, Inc. (first published March 3rd 1998)
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This is fabulous! The words and the illustrations are as musical as Duke's own compositions, which are "smoother than a hairdo sleeked with pomade" and "spicier than a pot of jambalaya!" I would love to see a Reading Rainbow-type production of this book with snippets of Duke's actual music.

I thought it was interesting that Duke didn't like piano when he was young. He thought it was boring "umpy-dump" music. When he was older, he heard ragtime for the first time and then taught himself to play h
Lisa Vegan
It took me awhile to get used to the writing style but it never felt as though it wasn’t a perfect fit for the story. This is a terrific picture book biography about Duke Ellington’s life and music. The illustrations are wonderful; I particularly loved how the music coming out of the instruments is shown via pictures. If readers/listeners aren’t familiar with it, I highly recommend that Duke Ellington’s music be played as an accompaniment. Even 30 second long snippets from iTunes would enhance t ...more
It's no wonder this book was recognized as a Caldecott Honor book; the
illustrations are beautiful. They complement the rhythm of the text
very well. This biography is written in a jazzy tone using upbeat
sentence structures and hip language. "He was a smooth-talkin',
slick-steppin', piano-playin' kid."

umpy-dump, left-handed hops and right-handedslides

We learn of Duke Ellington's life in an interesting and entertaining
manner. From his desire to impress the ladies in D.C. to ruling the
roost at the Co
Davina Cuffee
1. Junior Book-Biography

2. This books details the musical life of Duke Ellington. This jazzy read takes you all the way back to his childhood and lets you know how he got started with piano and became “The Paino Prince.”

3a. Illustrations; Language

3b. The scratchboard technique used to create the illustrations were AMAZING! I know it took the illustrator a long time to do these pictures, and I think it was a great way to do illustrations for this biography because it gave an older feeling while k
CH_Emily Scholnik
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH; 1st edition (March 3, 1999)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786801786
ISBN-13: 978-0786801787

"He was a smooth-talkin', slick-steppin', piano-playin' kid," "writes master wordsmith Andrea Pinkney in the rhythmic, fluid, swinging prose of this excellent biography for early readers."

Duke Ellington tells of a young boy and his rise to fame in a time of racism. He was a huge part of the "evolution" of Jazz music, which "originates
I loved this picture book biography of Duke Ellington. The illustrations were great--and I'm not alone in thinking that, the book was honored with a Caldecott Honor in 1999. The text was great too. The style was very original--smooth, jazzy, rhythmic. The facts were all there, yes, but they were dressed up nicely by the language, the words she chose to use to tell her story. She's a natural storyteller and it shows.

Here's how it begins,

You ever hear of the jazz-playin' man, the man with the cat
Jan 14, 2013 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This book offers a fascinating look into the life of Duke Ellington. The biography provides lots of interesting details, without being overwhelming or boring and the illustrations complement the story nicely. I liked the lyrical, jazz-laced narrative and the flow of the story.

After we read this book, we checked out a few videos of Duke Ellington and his orchestra so our girls could really get a feel for the music of the era and the timeless popularity of some of his songs. We really enjoyed rea
Sarah Snow
This is a biography of the musician Duke Ellington. It starts when Duke begins piano lessons per his mother's wishes. However, Duke is bored of the piano and would rather play baseball; so he quits. When he is older, he picks it back up and starts his journey. This would make a great classroom discussion about giving something or someone a second chance. The book continues on Duke's journey and how one man became an orchestra. It also talks about the meaning behind his music and their ties to th ...more
Kayla Davis
This book is based on the real life accounts of Edward Kennedy Ellington. In Edward’s younger years he detests playing the piano and decides to quit, but later when he discovers ragtime music, he teaches himself how to play and compose and becomes one of the best piano players of all time, earning the name Duke. The main theme of the book is music. This is great book to use to teach K-1st grade students about black history. The book could also be used to discuss the history of music and influent ...more
This is an lively and vibrant biography of famous jazz pianist Duke Ellington. His story starts from when he was a young boy and hated the piano. It then describes how he soon came to actually feel the rhythm and the notes pop out to him, so he once again took up the piano, this time falling in love. Then the story describes Duke Ellington life as a jazz performer and ends when he formed his actually band, or his " orchestra".

The illustrations in this book are so colorful and vibrant that they a
Emily Holter
This historical fiction book tells about the life of Duke Ellington, a famous jazz musician. Although the book is based on a real person, the stories involved in the book are not all accurate. The young readers will fully enjoy this book as it covers all aspects of music.

All throughout the book, you see and read about multiple instruments, for example; saxophones, drums, pianos, trombones, guitars, and trumpets. This could entice children to get involved more in music. The book really highlights
Lis Ann
See more @ The Indigo Quill . blogspot . com

First I'd like to point out what a fine-looking couple the author and illustrator are! You know you're blessed when your soulmate's calling in life coincides with your own. That is just so darn precious.

This children's book comes not only with funky artwork, but the language is also set to its own beat. You learn cool new metaphors like "spicier than a pot of jambalaya!" or slang terms like "swankiest." You and your child(ren) can have fun together en
April Poulter
The best way that I can describe this book is colorful and I don't mean that in a derogatory or crude way. This is a fabulous book with bright, bold artwork and rich, poetic words. The words alone are enough to create a vivid picture in your mind but there are actual illustrations that do the author's words justice. My favorite part about the book was the way that it described things. Some of my favorite phrases were:
"Left-handed hops and right-handed slides."
"Curling notes like a kite tail."
Rashanda Ravenel
So, I took piano my first year in high school;I thought it would be so much fun because I love music. It turned out to be the worst mistake ever as a freshman just entering school. My teacher was so mean and so strict, with no patience. I definitely had those feelings of frustration and anxiety that we associated with Dual Language Learners. So, I ended up dropping the class. I still have little knowledge of playing the piano, but at least my desire to learn is still present. I would use this as ...more
Rachel Anne  Boody
I really enjoyed reading this book all about Duke Ellington and his amazing musical abilities!! It was beautifully illustrated and gave a wonderful background about his life and how he became such a famous & talented musician. I will definitely use this children's book while teaching about music and developing our talents in order to perform and help others appreciate music. I will also focus on the illustration and talk about how art has an amazing way of adding color to the words that we r ...more
Kate Reilly
Edward Kennedy Ellington, otherwise known as "Duke" was one of the forerunners in the evolution of jazz music. He composed and played swing music, which is a form of jazz music. He started with the piano and at first the music didn't sound good, but after a while, he became good and started to make up his own melodies. At 19 he started playing at various clubs and parties. He went on to form a band that played all over DC but soon began playing in NYC. His band, the Washingtonians was soon asked ...more
Ashley Snarr
I enjoyed this story. The illustrations were different from the clear, smooth pictures I am used to, but I think the smeared lines helped add to Duke's life-story. I learned quite a bit about Duke Ellington and his music, but I do not think the book held too much information for a young child. I believe a child would stay interested and enjoy the story about his life and music. I loved how he talked about it being the music of his people, and the author did a wonderful job of showing that in her ...more
Caitlin Lichtenberg
I loved the feel of this book. The pictures were enthralling, especially after realizing how difficult it was to make them. They seemed very indicative of the type of music the book was discussing. The language made me feel like I was back in that time period. Things like "folks," and "sit pretty," and "daddy-o" made me laugh and really get into the theme of the work. The phrases that described Duke's music were beautiful and fun! The music itself in the story practically came to life as another ...more
Sapphire Moosman
I was a curious but reserved while starting this book. I like most music, but jazz is not one of my favorites. I was in for a pleasant surprise. The artwork is beautiful and distinct, made out of hand made scratch paper. The unique art combined with the bright color used makes the entire book a festival of colors for the eyes.

But it is the words that are truly wonderful. Pinkney has such powerful and colorful metaphors to describe everything from the people to stories. Allowing you to "picture"
Bonnie Stohel
This was such a fun book! I can easily see how it won the Caldecott, the illustrations are absolutely fantastic and the word choice that the author uses easily mimics the sound of ragtime and jazz. He uses swanky words to try and
convey the feeling of life at that time and the feeling of Ellington’s music.

They don’t convey a lot of Ellington’s life outside of his music, but since that is the purpose of the book I think they do it really well. They talk about his rise to fame, what his music was
Musical, colorful, wonderful, beautiful! This story of Duke Ellington and his band captures the sounds of jazz right on the page with color color color and oh so many marvelous words. Full of onomatopoeias, you can't help but hear the beat and pizazz streaming from the page to inside your head.
Duke can inspire any child with a dream; he gives up piano, takes it back up, teaches himself to be a master the way he wants, calls himself Duke, and becomes famous doing what he loves with his pals. His
Lauryn Carroll
I loved the illustrations in this book. The illustrator, Brian Pinkney, used scratch board paper to do the illustrations and painted the colors before in the right places. I think it is so interesting. The vibrant colors throughout the book represent the music that Duke Ellington and his Orchestra created. It is a great children's book and helps them to learn about this style of music. It uses language that describes that era so that children can get a better idea of what that time was like. It ...more
The picture Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra creates through its illustrations and its catchy, descriptive phrases is beautiful. The story of Duke Ellington is a great teaching aid. The story itself was just missing a tiny bit of something. I didn't get sucked into it. Maybe the flowery language overshadowed the plot line, but I didn't have any form of attachment to Mr. Ellington. I didn't really care if he succeeded or not. Maybe it's just me though. I loved the illustrations ...more
I knew nothing about Duke Ellington, so this book was very educational. I think it's really cool that the book has a beat to it, and that it's best read aloud while listening to some of Duke Ellington's music. The author did a really good job capturing the heart and soul of jazz music through the words and beat. My favourite thing though was the illustration style. I think it's really cool that black was painted over colours and then etched away to reveal the coloured illustrations. It was a rea ...more
Kenzie Cornelison
I not only thought this was a great book for the story and the way it was told, but I also loved the way that it was illstrated. I thought the artist did a fantastic job on the artwork for the book. I also liked that it was a great, short biography; and they didn't just tell a story but it had a beat to go along with it the whole time. Which goes perfectly with a biography of a such a talented musician. I think that between having the beat throughtout the book and the artists work - it brought D ...more
Non-Print Review of Book on CD with picture book

From Kirkus Reviews
Addressing readers directly``You ever heard of the jazz-playin' man, the man with the cats who could swing with his band?''the Pinkneys embark on a cool and vibrant tour of Duke Ellington's musical career, from the pool hall ragtime that ``set Duke's fingers to wiggling,'' to his 1943 Carnegie Hall concert, also giving some of the soloists that played with him, and songwriter Billy Strayhorn, a chance to step forward. Translated
Grade Level-1st-4th
Genre-Picture Biography

This book is a Caldecott Honor Book. This book is about Duke Ellington and his journey to become the King of the Keys or the Piano Prince. When he was younger, he preferred baseball over the piano, but when he heard ragtime he started playing again. He formed his own band at age nineteen once he moved to Washington, D.C. This book introduces others in his band such as Sonny Greer and Otto “Toby” Hardwick and mentions several of his well-known songs such
Duke Ellington. Weston Woods
(1998). Retrieved July 21, 2008, from

What a nice introduction to Duke Ellington! This book is best when viewed in its video form on united streaming because of the music that accompanies it. This way, kids are learning about Ellington's music, and they get to hear it, too.

The story chronicles Ellington's rise to success, starting with how Ellington learned to play piano. From a pedagogical standpoint, I like th
Joan Innes
I loved this colorful autobiograhical story of the great musician, Duke Ellington! I totally enjoy this era and genre of jazz music and Duke Ellington was such an enigmatic personality. This book is written by a husband and wife team. The wife is the illustrator and the husband is the author. The illustrations and lively wording echo the theme of action, lively music and festivity. With swirling shapes and unusual action-type angles the pictures come to life with bright colors outlined distinctl ...more
When Edward Kennedy Ellington was a boy he didn’t think much of the piano lessons his parents forced him into. He thought they were boring and he was much more interested in baseball. Then one day he heard the sounds of ragtime music and knew that was the sound for him. As he learned how to create the rhythms of ragtime he began creating sounds all his own and soon became pioneer in the world of jazz music. Under the nickname “Duke” Ellington he formed a band called The Washingtonians. They late ...more
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Andrea Davis Pinkney is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 20 books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book Duke Ellington, illustrated by Brian Pinkney; Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award; and Alvin Ailey, a Parenting Publication Gold medal winne ...more
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