|Stompin' at the Savoy : how Chick Webb became the King of drums|
Author: Donohue, Moira Rose
Black American jazz drummer William Henry "Chick" Webb led one of the big bands of the swing era, earning him the nickname the "King of the Savoy."
Kirkus Reviews (12/01/20)
School Library Journal (02/01/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 01/01/2021 After childhood illness, injury, and surgery left young William Henry Webb with a hunched back and stunted his growth, his doctor suggested that he take up drumming to strengthen his arms. His mother couldn’t afford drums or drumsticks, so he used whatever came to hand, beating away on pots and pans, stairs, and garbage cans. Nicknamed Chick as a child, he remained short in stature as an adult, but he became a giant among jazz and swing drummers in the 1920s and 1930s, when he formed his own band with young Ella Fitzgerald as lead singer and himself on drums. This picture book concludes with his band’s win over Benny Goodman’s in a battle-of-the-bands competition in Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom. The story flows well, following Webb’s childhood affinity for drumming into his successful career. Freeman’s dynamic illustrations feature well-defined forms; deep, rich colors; and an indefinable sense of music arising perhaps from the visual rhythm of repeated shapes, particularly dancers, as well as the colorful quarter notes floating through certain scenes. An enjoyable picture-book biography. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 02/01/2021 K-Gr 3—William Henry "Chick" Webb, a Black drummer born in the early 1900s in East Baltimore, MD, had spinal tuberculosis, but his rhythmic skills carried him to the heights of jazz music. Called "chicken" for his posture, Webb embraced the epithet, turning it into his lifelong nickname, "Chick." When he was a child, Webb fell down the stairs and needed an operation. Following the surgery, a doctor instructed Webb to practice drumming to strengthen his arms. He practiced with wooden spoons because his mother couldn't afford to buy drumsticks. When Webb was nine or 10, he sold newspapers on the street and was eventually able to pay for his own sticks, and later a drumset. As a teenager, he was hired to play in bands, though he couldn't read music. On the advice of Duke Ellington, he formed his own band and hired Ella Fitzgerald as lead singer. Shortly, he was performing at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem where thousands danced to his swing beat. He competed in band competitions, losing to his old friend Ellington but besting Benny Goodman, the "King of Swing." Webb became the "King of Drums." Donohue tells this inspiring story smoothly and succinctly, with lively language. Freeman's animated digital illustrations are filled with musical symbols. Integrated crowds watch the young newsboy twirling his drumsticks; years later Black and white club patrons dance to his beat at the Savoy. An author's note explains more about swing jazz and Chick's physical issues and short life. VERDICT An upbeat addition to biographical picture book collections.—Kathleen Isaacs, Children's Literature Specialist, Pasadena, MD - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.