The Story of the ­Saxophone

Holiday House. Mar. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780823437023.
K-Gr 3–This sweeping biography traces the life and legacy of Joseph-Antoine Adolph Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. In his youth, the curious, daydreaming boy works as an apprentice in his father’s music shop, tinkering with reeds and brass components to create a new type of horn. As an adult, he champions his instrument before a skeptical public, eventually convincing countries around Europe to include it in their military marching bands. Though his widespread recognition later in life is marred by personal and financial hardship, Sax’s influence spreads to America, where a series of musical innovators make the saxophone a standard of jazz performance. The well-established author-illustrator team achieves a strong, unified vision. Cline-Ransome tells the story in colorful detail, infusing the historical information with a lively, engaging voice. Ransome augments his loose, expressive line art with sparing touches of collage—notably, every saxophone in the book appears as a motley assemblage of photograph fragments, underscoring the instrument’s status as an extraordinary composite.
VERDICT An enjoyable read and a first purchase, especially for collections in need of accessible books on jazz history for younger readers.

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