"In addition to my books on jazz--having written such novels for young readers as Jazz Country and The Day They Came to Arrest the Book--I knew Duke Ellington, who was one of my mentors. I'm certain Duke would have recognized himself in Mick Carlon's Riding on Duke's Train. From reading this novel, many young readers here and around the world will be impelled to hear Duke's music and to read more and more about the international language that jazz has become. Duke used to say that the individual sound of a musician revealed his soul. Mick Carlon is a 'soul' storyteller."
—Nat Hentoff, author of The Jazz Life; Listen to the Stories; kids’ novels Jazz Country and The Day They Came to Arrest the Book; and, most recently, At the Jazz Band Ball: Sixty Years on the Jazz Scene.
“Utilizing his encompassing knowledge of Ellington’s music, personnel and decades-long touring, Carlon…presents a kid’s-eye view whose drama centers on the band’s 1939 European tour…. Danny, orphaned at 9, stows away on Duke’s tour train…. Danny narrates a life of touring: exciting, sometimes boring, rich with musical highs and adoring fans worldwide. Tension ratchets during the tour abroad, as Belgians hide machine guns in haystacks and Nazis detain the band’s Scandinavian-bound train for hours in Hamburg. Carlon unflinchingly characterizes the Nazi hatred of “Niggermusik.” Two references to the n-word contextualize it appropriately, as a reprehensible tool of Nazi hate speech. In schools where students are lucky enough to experience classroom jazz studies, this title, combining rich musical history and a “you are there” approach, is a natural.” (Historical fiction. 8-12)
"Amazingly convincing and authentic characterizations and settings make Riding on Duke's Train a thoroughly enjoyable (and historically and musically instructive) read."
—Dan Morgenstern, director, Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University;
Author, "Living With Jazz" (Pantheon Books).
Mr. Morgenstern has won more Grammies (for his liner-notes) than any other writer.
"We've known and loved Duke Ellington's music for over 70 years, but through Mick Carlon's extraordinary novel, Riding on Duke's Train, the reader encounters not only Duke's genius, but his character and humanity. In addition, the reader meets the members of the Ellington Orchestra, the virtuosos for whom Ellington composed his music. This is one train you won't want to get off!"
George Washington University Staff
Radio Host, "George Washington University Presents American Jazz," broadcast weekly on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio
"The only valid model for that publishing dream--good juvenile writing that also appeals to adults--isn't J.K. Rowling, but Robert Louis Stevenson, who kept sufficiently in touch with the child in himself to speak to all ages. Mick Carlon possesses that same quality: a clarity of diction; impatience with literariness; and a youthful impatience to get on with the story. Stevenson would surely have approved of Riding on Duke's Train, a ripping good yarn that plunges the reader into the world of Duke Ellington and the Europe and America of 1939." Brian Morton
—Brian Morton, author of The Penguin Guide to Jazz and books on Edgar Allan Poe, Dmitri Shostakovich, and Woodrow Wilson; and, under a pseudonym, several works of fiction
"In the 1960s I took photographs at every one of Duke Ellington's New York recording sessions. I knew Duke, Johnny "Rabbit" Hodges and Harry Carney. Carlon has captured these men so accurately in Riding on Duke's Train that reading the story actually brought tears to my eyes. This is the way they were, folks."
ForeWord Reviews, recommended books for middle readers:
After innocently hitching a ride on a train one night, nine-year-old orphan Danny’s life
takes a turn for the marvelous. It’s 1937, and the train happens to transport Duke Ellington
and his orchestra. Temporarily adopted by the group of compassionate men, Danny accompanies
them on a European tour two years later and experiences first-hand the hatred of
the Nazis and the love of the French people for Ellington’s music and vibe. This enthralling
book is an adventure story with a smart, historical framework, one that has been lauded by
jazz critics and those who knew the Duke. Ages nine and up.
Riding on Duke's Train book trailer
CATEGORY: Middle Grade Novel
Trade Paperback $9.95
176 Pages * A LeapKids Book
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