Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra” as Want to Read:
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,806 Ratings  ·  269 Reviews
You ever hear of the jazz playin' man, the man with the cats who could swing with his band?

His name was Duke. Duke Ellington. As a child, he said piano made an umpy-dump sound that was headed nowhere worth following. But, years later, he heard the piano played a whole new way. People called the music "ragtime", and soon the sound had Duke's fingers riding the piano keys.

Hardcover, 32 pages
Published March 3rd 1999 by Hyperion Books for Children (first published March 3rd 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Duke Ellington, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Duke Ellington

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The husband and wife duo of Andrea Davis Pinkney, text, and Brian Pinkney, illustrations, has produced a delightful book on the Duke, Duke Ellington that is.

Born in 1899, Edward Kennedy Ellington said as a young boy, 'Hey, call me Duke'. And so they did - fittingly as it turned out. At the time he was a smooth talking, slick stepping, piano playing kid, which was something of a turnabout for when even younger when his folks wanted him to have piano lessons, he was more interested in playing base
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
Mar 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: Luann
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
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: j-biography
I liked the artwork, described as prepared as scratchboard renderings with luma dyes, gouache, and oil paint. The illustrations are colorful, energetic, and I think depict the time period very well. I liked that he depicted the music as curlicues erupting from the various instruments. This is the same illustrator who did the artwork for The Faithful Friend.
Lovely and rich illustrations combined with the text to introduce children to Duke Ellington and his music.
Lyrical text and bold artwork tell the story of Duke Ellington's life and music career in this biographical picture book.
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 celebrates the artistry of this famous man and his orchestra.

The illustrations, "prepared as scratchboard renderings with luma dyes, gouache, and oil paint", complement the story nicely. I really liked the lyrical, jazz-laced narrative and the flow of the story.

Additional biographical information, along with sources for further insight
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Davina Cuffee
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Robert by: Michelle Fralinger
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Harlem
  • When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson
  • A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams
  • Ben's Trumpet
  • The Faithful Friend
  • Trombone Shorty
  • Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman
  • Rosa
  • Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum
  • Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems
  • The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins
  • Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave
  • Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane
  • Peppe the Lamplighter
  • Mirandy and Brother Wind
  • Noah's Ark
  • The Boy of the Three-Year Nap
  • How I Learned Geography
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
More about Andrea Davis Pinkney...