Travels with Louis

Travels with Louis

by Mick Carlon

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935248354
Publisher: Leapfrog Press
Publication date: 08/28/2012
Series: LeapKids
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 7.60(w) x 5.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 8 - 15 Years

About the Author


Mick Carlon is a 27-year veteran English/journalism teacher at both the high and middle school levels. A life-long jazz fan, he regularly plays jazz in his classroom and has turned hundreds of students into jazz fans. He is quoted in the latest edition of The Penguin Guide to Jazz, co-authored by Brian Morton. His first children’s novel, Riding on Duke’s Train, was published in January 2012.

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Travels with Louis 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
ladfon More than 1 year ago
The School Library Journal review is a travesty. I teach jazz studies at a major university and what struck me about Travels With Louis is its accuracy to the real Louis Armstrong. This is the way Armstrong spoke, laughed, even thought. I've read all the biographies--even Louis' two autobiographies, one heavily ghost-written--and the Armstrong in this novel is the closest we'll get to the real man. God is in the details and the details in this novel amazed me: the Karnofskys; Little Rock '57; the way Louis deals with racism: "That cat just hasn't realized yet what life is all about." The real Pops lives and breathes once again in the pages of Mick Carlon's novel. Nat Hentoff is right: Here is Armstrong in his full humanity. Please don't allow one review to color your opinion. Travels With Louis is the perfect way to open young minds to this amazing artist and man. I've even made it a supplementary text to my course! Travels With Louis is the real deal. This review is not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Travels With Louis is more than a novel about the heartwarming friendship between Louis and Fred Bradley who is destined to also become a fine trumpet player. It touches on the world in the 50,s racism, Langston Hughes and the wonderful Village Vanguard jazz club which was and still is an important jazz institution.Mick Carlon skillfully captures the essence of jazz improvisation and with ease introduces all ages to the jazz world including Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. The book also sensitively and accurately describes racism and its effect on Louis and Fred as they travel a fascinating world. I recommend the book for all ages with the hope it will be introduced at the Jr.High and High School level. This book extoles the importances of Jazz as America's contribution to the world's music. I also highly recommend " Riding on Dukes Train" by Mick Carlon
DrummerMC More than 1 year ago
As a jazz musician myself for over 50 years, I was intrigued when I read "Riding on Duke's Train", and looked forward to the release of "Travels with Louis". Both are gems. Not only does the reader get a glimpse into the world of jazz and those who work and play in that arena, but we get to meet some of the giants who made their unique contributions thereto. These up-close and personal glimpses are not only illuminating and endearing, but are set in the social context of the times. A time in which the world at large was not always anxious to accept them. As a young boy watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV, I recall seeing Louis Armstrong appear every now and again. My recollection was that he was a fun loving guy who loved to entertain, but was not as serious as perhaps I wanted him to be. As I got older, and more educated, I came to understand that I could not have been more wrong. Louis was indeed a true giant in the world of music and jazz in particular. Further, in "Travels with Louis", we get to experience what it is like for a young musician to make his first performance before a live audience, a time remembered by every musician, where one walks that rail, courting disaster or greatness by one's playing. These books are not the world's next great novel, nor are they intended to be so. It seems to me that they are intended to open a door to a new world of music for younger people. Notwithstanding that, I , and I suspect, anyone who has the slightest interest in music and jazz will find them wonderfully entertaining. There are many adventures, "inside" info, interesting characters, portraits of musicians whose names might evoke a sense of familiarity and enough music history to hopefully spark an interest in jazz that some might lead some to go back to the future for their musical enjoyment. Rap, and the other "Bubble Gum" music that passes for music in our pop culture is really mostly sights and sounds with little or no nutritive value for the brain or the soul. Mick Carlon has hopefully given a key to any who would use it to discover a way to the only original American Art Form, and that is jazz. In a perfect world, these books would be required reading in every High School and Jr. High School in America. But do not let that stop you from acquiring them yourself, and then passing them along to any young people in your family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to agree: The School Library Journal review is as wrong-headed as wrong can be. I'm a fairly well known jazz writer who knew Louis Armstrong, spending many hours in his company. I have read Travels With Louis twice now--and I plan to read it again--savoring this time spent with the man I knew. Calling Carlon's depiction of Armstrong a caricature is like calling a photograph of a sunset a caricature. The human being I got to know is the man the reader meets in this novel. From the way Louis would tease his wife, to his endless love of red beans and rice, to his fond (and not so fond) rememberences of his childhood, the real Louis Armstrong is amazingly and vividly alive in Travels With Louis. I knew Dizzy Gillespie, too, and the chapter in which the young protagonist spends a snowy afternoon in Louis and Dizzy's company is one of the most deliciously beautiful chapters I have ever read. I have to agree with "ladfon": Ignore the SLJ review and read this book. Encourage your children and grandchildren to read this book. And encourage your local middle or high school to adopt it. Travels With Louis is that good--an important novel that can open young people's minds to the majesty of Louis Armstrong the musician and Louis Armstrong the man. In the hands of Mick Carlon, Pops lives again. But then again, through his music, he never died.
steme71 More than 1 year ago
Travels With Louis is a fine book--an important book. I bought it at Newport in August. Since I've read it, I have a greater appreciation for Louis Armstrong--both as a human being and an artist. The character of Fred and his father, Big Fred, live on in my mind. Big Fred is a hero. Let me put it this way--since reading Travels With Louis, I have bought over 20 Armstrong cds. My neighbor is a teacher so I bought her a copy. She says that her principal is now ordering copies for the 9th grade students in their school to read. I highly recommend Travels With Louis.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was born in 1953 in Corona, Queens. Louis Armstrong lived two blocks from my home. To us neighborhood kids, he was Uncle Louis and his wife was Aunt Lucille. Let me tell you, he was good to us--buying us ice cream, giving us advice, listening to our little kid stories. So when I saw Mick Carlon's Travels With Louis at last summer's Newport Jazz Festival, I had to buy it. Not to get all corny, but I often felt the old eyes tearing up. This book, to me, is a time machine back to my childhood. You see, I knew the boys on the cover and I lived what the boys in this book go through--playing ball, hanging out, being called the n word by a white person, and visiting Louis Armstrong. I was shocked when I read the School Library Joural review. The Louis in this book a "caricature"? That's crazy! Listen, several times Pops would show us kids the Star of David medal he always wore beneath his shirt. I can recall him telling us that "the good Jewish people helped me when I was your age." So when I read this book and Louis does the same thing to Fred and his buddies, I nearly fell off the couch. I don't know how the author got all this first-hand information, but the Louis Armstrong in Travels With Louis is exactly the man I remember, I can tell you that. Our Louis was always jovial, chuckling, with a twinkle in his eye--but if you had a problem, he was always ready to listen and give you some hard advice. Uncle Louis was not messing about--he would give it to you straight when he felt you needed to hear it. And that's the way he is in this book, too. I don't usually write in to websites, but I felt that I had to add my bit to what's already been said. This beautiful book--and I've bought copies for all my grandkids--is the way it was, at least for me. I'm grateful to the author (who was off buying some food at Newport--I bought the book from his wife) for giving me this chance to go back to my old neighborhood and spend some more time with Uncle Louis and Aunt Lucille. Buy Travels With Louis, people. You'll be glad you did.
dman0 More than 1 year ago
My grandson's iPod had Louis Armstrong blasting from it! "You're listening to Louis?" I asked. "I LOVE him! I just read a book about him and now he's all I listen to. Later he handed me the book: Travels With Louis, which I gobbled up in three days. I can see why my grandson was so enthusiastic--this novel is amazing and beautiful. What's sticking in my mind now is the protagonist's father, Big Fred, reading in his favorite chair in the living room, with one lamp behind him. And, of course, Louis Daniel Armstrong, vitally alive once again. I'mgoing to order copies for my other grandchildren, too. This book is a masterpiece!
sam_early More than 1 year ago
Travels With Louis is, hands down, the best novel I've read this year. My son bought it last weekend at the Newport Jazz Festival from .the author himself and he raved about it: "You have it read it NOW, Dad!" Once again, my son was right. This book has heart, humor, action, beautiful characterization (especially between a father and a son), and plenty of music. I was skeptical of Carlon's ability to make Louis Armstrong more than a stock figure--but he succeeds brilliantly. The Louis Armstrong in this novel is an alive presence--full of good humor and heart--and true wisdom. Music fans--and fans of simply great story telling--check out Mick Carlon's Travels With Louis today. I hope that schools across TODAY. Ihope that
deborah gilberto More than 1 year ago
Wow, I'm finding other fans of these books here! It was my son who raved on and on about Riding on Duke's Train, so I finally gave in and read it last year. As a black woman, I'm ashamed to admit that Duke Ellington was just a name to me. No longer. Thanks to Duke's Train, I am now a devoted fan. Now add Louis (and Ella) to the list. I agree with another reviewer--Travels With Louis is a deeper but no less enjoyable book. I love how Little Fred falls on his face and is nearly ready to give up his dream, but doesn't. I also love how the relationship between Big Fred and Sarah Ann does not follow a Hollywood script. Instead, it's real and it's beautiful. Why aren't these books being reviewed in Time and Newsweek and the New York Times? I'm 38 years old and these two young adult novels have opened up a whole new world of music to me. Whoever Mick Carlon is, I'm a grateful fan.
Linda Douglas More than 1 year ago
I'm an African American 7th grade teacher. A big Duke fan, I was overjoyed when my school adopted Mick Carlon's Riding on Duke's Train last year. My students absolutely loved the book (it taught itself!) and I was able to incorporate Ellington's music, videos of Ivie Anderson and Johnny Hodges, examples of Rex Stewart's evocative writing, and history lessons on Jim Crow and the rise of the Third Reich. Although my school has not yet adopted Travels With Louis, it seems to me to be an even deeper book. For example, the struggle of the protagonist Little Fred to overcome the death of his mother is heartbreakingly real and true. Since people are referring to the SLJ review, I'll weigh in, too. My grandfather took part in several lunch-counter protests in the early 60s. His were not in Nashville, but in Memphis. I had him read Travels With Louis and then asked him how realistic were the author's descriptions of such a protest. "He got it," replied my grandfather. "He caught the spirit and he caught the details." I'm lobbying in my school to have this novel used in our 8th grade curriculum. With Langston Hughes as a minor character, a teacher can use his marvelous poetry while teaching the novel. I like, too, how Carlon weaves in mentions of people like A.J. Muste and books like Dr. King's autobiography. All of these allusions can be used by a teacher to present a fully-rounded, mind-expanding reading experience. And, of course, then there's Louis' music to use! These two novels are gifts to students, teachers, and readers everywhere. To quote my grandfather, who has now read Riding on Duke's Train as well: "These books sure take you on a ride!"
joshamba More than 1 year ago
I'm 15 and I was born in New Orleans and I've just never gotten Louis Armstrong. Then we read Mr. Carlon's book in class last month and now I get it. Louis Armstrong was brave and funny and good and a genius. I now have over 80 Louis songs in my iPod. I loved this book so much that I read it again right after my class finished it and I've never done that before. My teacher says that the same author wrote a book about Duke Ellington. Maybe it will make me as much of a fan of Duke as I am now of Louis. My favorite part is when the hero, Fred, realizes that it's wrong to tease his overweight friend Tim. This might sound stupid, but it made me think of how I treat my own overweight friends. With jokes that must hurt. So I've stopped. I play the trumpet in my school band but I was just doing it, I was not in love with it. But since reading Travels With Louis I realize how cool the trumpet is and now I'm practicing and practicing. I now love my horn. Listening to Louis doesn't hurt either! If I could write this author a letter I would tell him that his book has changed my life. Thank you, sir.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
These reviews convinced me to order the book.  I'm so glad I did.  Travels With Louis not only inspired me to bring out  my old Satchmo albums, but to take my grandkids to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens.  I very much recommend both the museum and this book.  For another reason this meant alot to me.  My father also raised me and my sisters after my mother's death.  The character of Big Fred reminded me of my dad. I loved this book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a high school music teacher and I've now read both of these books. All I can say is...Why weren't they written sooner? Travels With Louis and Riding on Duke's Train are involving, warm-hearted, true-to-life stories that can grab kids and make them seek out our country's greatest music, jazz. I really can't compare them because they're quite different. I love how the reader truly gets inside the head of Little Fred in Travels With Louis. As a musician myself, Fred's battles with stage fright are quite realistically described. Both Duke and Louis come across as three dimensional characters, and the author's knowledge of jazz minutiae is impressive. I also loved traveling inside my head with Danny, Duke, Rabbit, Rex, and Ivie. It was always a fantasy of mine to play with Ellington (but I was born too late) and Duke's Train gave me the experience of being there--the book is that vivid. I've known this music my entire life and both books' descriptions of certain tunes had me once again listening to old favorites. I'll be doing my darndest to get my school system to buy both of these books.
josh delomba More than 1 year ago
Thanks to this terrific book, my daughter is now listening to Louis Armstrong all the time.  I loved it too.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a load of rubbish that library journal review is.  This book held my interest from the very first page.  I'm a grandfather who loves jazz and this book could make young people appreciate America's greatest art form.  Louis comes alive in this book.  Little Fred and his father are such wonderful characters.  I love thier talks and how much Big Fred wants to be there for his son.  This book, too, shows how warm hearted Louis Armstrong was.  it also shows the struggles against prejudice that so many black people like myself had to deal with.  I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good story or who wants to open thier kids minds to jazz.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author's new novel GIRL SINGER sent me to his two earlier books. Although a young adult novel, any adult can and will love this moving story about a father and son, doing their best in 1959 Queens. The "character" of Louis Armstrong literally bursts off the page and I found myself listening to Satchmo's music while reading. The tension increases when Little Fred, the novel's protagonist, takes part in a Civil Rights demonstration in Nashville, and a later section that takes part in London and Paris takes the reader right to these marvelous cities. I feel like I've just discovered a new favorite author.
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