Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

By Katheryn Russell-Brown
Illustrated by Frank Morrison

Hardcover: $20.95


Melba Doretta Liston loved the sounds of music from as far back as she could remember. As a child, she daydreamed about beats and lyrics, and hummed along with the music from her family’s Majestic radio.

At age seven, Melba fell in love with a big, shiny trombone, and soon taught herself to play the instrument. By the time she was a teenager, Melba’s extraordinary gift for music led her to the world of jazz. She joined a band led by trumpet player Gerald Wilson and toured the country. Overcoming obstacles of race and gender, Melba went on to become a famed trombone player and arranger, spinning rhythms, harmonies, and melodies into gorgeous songs for all the jazz greats of the twentieth century: Randy Weston, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, and Quincy Jones, to name just a few.

Brimming with ebullience and the joy of making music, Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a fitting tribute to a trailblazing musician and a great unsung hero of jazz.

Go behind-the-scenes with author Katheryn Russell-Brown to learn about all the research she did to write the book and illustrator Frank Morrison to see how the stunning art was made.

Listen to Frank's Little Melba Playlist of his favorite jazz music.

Additional educational resources:

About the Creators

Thumb_katheryn_russell-brown_resize Katheryn Russell-Brown - Author

Katheryn Russell-Brown is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida. She grew up in a family of music lovers, where jazz was an integral part of the sounds of daily life. A radio broadcast in 2008 about Liston inspired Russell-Brown to research the musician and eventually to write Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, her first picture book. Russell-Brown lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her family. Visit her online at

Thumb_frank_morrison Frank Morrison

Frank Morrison is a fine artist and illustrator of numerous award-winning books, including the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor winner Little Melba and Her Big Trombone. Before becoming an illustrator, Morrison was a well-known graffiti artist and accomplished dancer. Morrison lives with his family in Georgia. To find out more about Frank Morrison, visit his web site: