Rent Party Jazz

By William Miller
Illustrated by Charlotte Riley-Webb

Paperback: $11.95

Hardcover: out of stock


In New Orleans in the 1930s, young Sonny Comeaux has to work before school to help his mother make ends meet. When Mama loses her job, Sonny is worried. Rent day is coming soon, and if they miss paying by just one day, the landlord will put them out on the street and sell off their belongings.

Sonny wanders sadly through Jackson Square after school one day. His attention is caught by Smilin' Jack, a popular jazz musician. Sonny returns day after day, and soon finds himself explaining his problem to Smilin’ Jack. What Smilin' Jack offers Sonny then—how to raise money for the rent while having the world’s best party—changes both their lives forever.

Award-winning author William Miller tells his most affecting story yet, accompanied by Charlotte Riley-Webb's brilliantly-colored paintings that perfectly capture the lively rhythms of New Orleans jazz. This is a powerful story of family, friendship, and people coming together to help others in a time of need.

Read Aloud with actress Viola Davis, created and provided by Storyline Online, an interactive children's literacy website of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

For additional connections and exploration of themes, pair these field trip and activity ideas with Rent Party Jazz

Check out educator lesson plan and activities for Rent Party Jazz, 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

About the Creators

Thumb_thumb William Miller - Author

is the award-winning author of numerous books for children for LEE & LOW. Mr. Miller lives in York, Pennsylvania, where he teaches African American literature and creative writing at York College.

Thumb_thumb Charlotte Riley-Webb

is a fine artist whose paintings have appeared in more than 25 major exhibitions worldwide. Much of her work focuses on visually documenting her African American heritage, and the significance of music to that heritage can be seen in the rhythm, movement, and colors of her paintings. Rent Party Jazz, a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People, was praised for its lively, colorful, and flowing style by School Library Journal. Riley-Webb and her husband live in Locust Grove, Georgia. To find out more about Charlotte Riley-Webb, visit her Web site: