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The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend
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The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  93 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
What if you loved music more than anything? Suppose you had just learned to play the piano. Imagine that your family has to move to a new city and you have to leave your piano behind. People don’t like you in the new city because of  what you look like. How will you make yourself feel better? Mary Lou Williams, like Mozart, began playing the piano when she was four; at eig ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 18th 2010 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: children and parents interested in music, women's history, African American history
Until I read this truly spectacular picture book, I had no idea who Mary Lou Williams was, although as a fan of early jazz music, I have likely listened to many of her compositions and arrangements. The excellent and informative afterword states that she is considered the most famous female jazz musician of all time. And while most female jazz musicians of her time merely sang or danced, Mary Lou Williams became a piano virtuoso, who not only composed her own music, but also composed and arrange ...more
Lisa Vegan
This is a lovely picture book biography about the jazz musician Mary Lou Williams. If I had not know that before I started reading, I’d have learned it when I read the afterword. The story itself is told in a way that it could be either true or fictional. I knew nothing about Williams’ life before reading this book, and very little about her as a musician. The afterword makes clear how much she contributed to the field of music.

This account is adept at showing the transformative power of music,
Crystal Marcos
Jan 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Little Piano Girl: The Story of Mary Lou Williams, Jazz Legend was an enjoyable read. I knew nothing about Mary Lou Williams before reading this book. The "Afterward" was a great addition providing more information on Mary Lou's contribution to the world of music. I liked the illustrations and the colors used. Lots of blues and greens. Her story was a interesting to read and I enjoyed the flow of the story. I enjoy all types of music. Hearing of how Mary Lou Williams played and knowing now h ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
What a musical genius! This girl could play the piano--without having had lessons!--at the age of three. She could play any tune she heard without sheet music. Ingalls here recounts the story of Mary Lou Williams' life, as she grew up in Atlanta, encountered prejudice in Pittsburgh, and transformed all her experiences into music. Ingalls' lively descriptions of Mary Lou's music made me wish that a CD had been included with the book. In an afterword note, I was surprised to learn that, in the ear ...more
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
This is a fascinating story about a female Jazz legend, Mary Lou Williams. I had never heard of her before, so I'm really glad we found this book. It showed the hardships and poverty she lived with and how she rose above it all to pursue her dreams and her passion. We really liked this story.

This book was selected as one of the March 2011 - Music-Themed reads at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art-and-music
Mary Lou Williams became a jazz legend duirng a time when few women were successful at Jazz. She could hear a song and almost immediately reproduce it on her piano. As I honestly don't know much about Jazz, I had never heard of her before reading this book, but I am amazed by her talent starting at such a young age. I'd love to learn more about her and will definitely be looking for some music by her to listen to.
Marissa Steeves
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book's beautiful story and inspiring message. Mary Lou Williams had a lifelong love for piano jazz music that could ignite an inner musician within anyone. I felt a great deal of understanding and empathy for Mary's struggles growing up. It must have been extremely difficult to leave her home and piano in Atlanta, Georgia to move to an unwelcoming community in Pittsburgh. She may not have had much growing up, but her talent and dedication is what made her success so compelling.
Christine Turner
What if you loved music more than anything? Suppose you had just learned to play the piano. Imagine that your family has to move to a new city and you have to leave your piano behind. People don't like you in the new city because of what you look like. How will you make yourself feel better? Mary Lou Williams, like Mozart, began playing the piano when she was four; at eight she became a professional musician. She wrote and arranged music for Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gilles
Natalia Leston
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the story about the Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams, the black jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. In this book, she is a child moving into a new city, Pittsburg and she experiences racism growing up in segregation, as well as poverty. As the new girl in town, Mary doesn’t have friends and experiences many of the normal things that kids experience growing up, like breaking her arm. Her determination and talent push past the barriers of limitation and she becomes one of the most notable ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Love this book, which my daughter randomly pulled off library shelves, drawn in by the little girl on the cover. When we got it home, I learned it was about the childhood of an amazing jazz pianist, Mary Lou Williams. This story is beautifully told (nice use of sound - alliteration, rhythm, rhyme - in the writing) and the pictures are clear and evocative. I liked that it is primarily about her childhood and just brings in her adulthood in the last couple of pages - age-appropriate.

One small quib
Jessica Henry
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: multicultural
Text to Self:
I used to take piano lessons when I was younger and this book reminded me of that. Like Mary, I would sit down and plunk away at the keys. I thought I was making beautiful music when in all reality was probably making loud annoying sounds. My Granddad must have had some faith in my love for plunking keys because he bought me a notebook that I could compose my own songs in. It would be fun to find that old notebook, but I'm sure it is long gone now.

(Remembering) Where did Mary move
Ruby Choe
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
The book is based on the famous jazz musician, Mary Lou Williams. She was a prodigy as a child with music. Everyone loved hearing the tunes Mary played; it made people dance to her music. It is interesting and age-appropriate to elementary leveled students. The book includes a rich, thick plot about how Mary became a famous jazz musician. It also includes realistic, convincing character because the story was about Mary when she was young. The illustrations are accurate of setting, plot, and char ...more
Jennifer Lanman
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is about an African American girl who played like an angel on the piano. Overtime she played she brought people to listen and enjoy her pieces. She broke her arm and was unable to play but soon tried again and it was as if she had never stopped. This could be used in the classroom for an activity on favorite hobbies kindergartener's have. They can be read this story and go back to draw what they like to do for fun. Then share with the class. This would be good for 1st or 2nd grade.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent picture book biography. The authors did a nice job of capturing what made Mary Lou Williams so special while telling an interesting, age-appropriate, relatable story. I love Giselle Potter's sense of color and how she makes the characters in her illustrations relate to each other. Highly recommended for ages 5-8.
Becki Iverson
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love books about forgotten heroes, and Mary Lou Williams is one. Her talents were extraordinary, as this book elucidates, and without her American music wouldn't be what it is. Definitely a great book for inspiring aspiring musicians or little girls in your life.
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
The story could be confusing at times (for example, the story about Mary Lou breaking her arm) and the illustrations were, in my opinion, kind of creepy. It's a bummer because I was looking forward to reading this book.
I'm looking forward to sharing this book with my 5th grade students. The text & illustrations do a fantastic job of introducing Mary Lou Williams, a jazz musician. I learned quite a bit about this woman and feel inspired to find some of her music and listen to it.
Dec 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I'll be reading this for the Jazz themed after school program this week, then playing her music in the background during crafts. It's just what I was looking for.
rated it liked it
Feb 23, 2015
rated it really liked it
Feb 22, 2013
Jody Jensen Shaffer
rated it it was amazing
Jul 20, 2016
Kirsten Murphy
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Dec 21, 2015
Ms Threlkeld
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Jan 26, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Apr 24, 2010
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Jun 04, 2015
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Sep 11, 2011
David Thierry
rated it liked it
Nov 27, 2015
rated it really liked it
Feb 18, 2010
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
Picture Book biography.
rated it it was amazing
May 17, 2015
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