Little Melba and Her Big Trombone
By Katheryn Russell-Brown
Illustrated by Frank Morrison
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.
Explore a reading guide and learning activities for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone created by the Education Division at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its Book of the Month program.
Check out Frank Morrison's Little Melba Playlist of his favorite jazz music.
See how the art for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone was made.
Check out educator lesson plan and activities for Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, a title featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collections. To find other free activities that inspire young readers as well as learn more about Reading Is Fundamental, visit us at RIF.org.
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About the Creators
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 krbrown.net.
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: www.morrisongraphics.com