By Anna Harwell Celenza ▪ Illustrated by Don Tate
November 2011 ▪ Charlesbridge ▪ Picture Book with Audio CD
Hop-a-tooty and slim-slam-a-booty.
Story: In 1960 the great Duke Ellington and his friend and collaborator Billy Strayhorn put a jazzy spin on a holiday classic and created the nuttiest Nutcracker of all.
Anna Harwell Celenza has brought the story behind the story of some of the greatest musical compositions to young readers, including Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, Beethoven’s Heroic Symphony, and even Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. But now she swings with some jumpin’ new cats—Duke Ellington’s orchestra with Billy Strayhorn. These two jazz giants took on Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece and infused it with glitz and glam for a modern holiday celebration that goes crazy with the musical influences of the time. A fun story, full of the slang of 1960s jazz cats, and the sounds of New Orleans, Harlem, and Las Vegas. A CD of the original Columbia Records recording with the Duke Ellington Orchestra is included.
Story behind the story: "Listening to music is liberating," says author Anna Celenza. "For me, it’s like reading a book: sometimes I do it alone; sometimes I like to share the experience. That’s why I wrote Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite. For years, I’ve enjoyed listening to the Nutcracker. Now I hope to share this music with readers like you! My love of Duke’s music inspired me to look for the story behind the notes. There I discovered a close-knit group of friends and musicians: the “cats” in Ellington’s band. As Duke’s best friend Billy Strayhorn once said: 'They’re beyond category!'
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
"If my books can make classical music more accessible to kids,
that would be a dream come true."
Anna grew up on a farm in Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. She played the cello in the Greensboro Youth Orchestra and the drums in her high school marching band and jazz band. Music and the arts have always been an important part of her life, leading her to a B.A in art history and music history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, studies in art history at the Rijks-University Gent in Ghent, Belgium, and an M.A. and Ph.D.in musicology from Duke University.
Her expertise in art and music history, combined with her passion for music and her love of literature, led her to write The Farewell Symphony, her first children's book. She realized that there were few books that introduce children to specific works of classical music. Children are exposed to classical music everyday in commercials and cartoons and even in pop music, but they aren't exposed to the stories and the history behind these compositions. In her workshops and children's classes, and now in her books, Anna ensures that children come away with an appreciation, even a love, of classical music. Currently the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown University, her work has been featured on nationally syndicated radio and TV programs including NPR's "Todd Mundt Show," BBC's "Music Matters" and "Prom Broadcasts," and C-Span's "Book-TV" and she's served as a writer and guest commentator for Michigan Public Radio and NPR's "Performance Today."