Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, September 4, 2023

The Story of the Saxophone

The Story of the Saxophone  
by Lesa Cline-Ransome
illustrated by James E. Ransome
Holiday House, 2023

Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome are known for their award winning picture books. Many of their titles are biographies featuring well-known figures such as Harriet Tubman, Venus & Serena Williams, and Louis Armstrong. The Story of the Saxophone is a captivating picture book biography about Adolphe Sax, and a figure not known to most readers. 

As a young boy growing up in Belgium, Sax liked to tinker and build. He also played multiple instruments and made his own instruments. Sax created an instrument that had the high notes of a clarinet and the low notes of a trumpet: le saxophon. The story spans decades and continents as Sax brings his saxophone to Paris where it became a military instrument for the French Army before making its way to Mexico and eventually New Orleans as jazz music was beginning to spread.
 The narrative is inviting and lyrical, making it the perfect book to read aloud. James E. Ransome's illustrations use watercolor and and collage to portray life in the late 1800s in a realistic style with some humor mixed in at times. 

The Story of the Saxophone is a recommended purchase for school libraries, public libraries, and as a gift for children who like to tinker, create, or play music. Readers will admire Adolphe Sax's determination and ingenuity throughout the story. The Ransomes conclude the book by showing how Sax's invention had a profound impact on the world of music, specifically jazz music in the U.S. Don't miss the gorgeous illustrations of sax players on the end papers.

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