Thursday, March 16, 2017

Missing Horn Mystery: The Jazzman's Trumpet (A Kit Mystery) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

"And now, ladies and gentlemen," said the announcer, "the moment you've all been waiting for. The King Jazz Hour will announce the winner of the free concert tickets...right after a word from our sponsor, Sudso Soap."

"Another commercial? I just want the waiting to be over!" Kit exclaimed.

The announcer's voice returned. "Okay, folks, we've picked a postcard at random for the lucky winner who will win two front-row tickets to Swingin' Slim Simpson's one-night show at the Burns Theater right here in Cincinnati Saturday night. So without further ado, the name of our winning listener is...

Miss Kit Kittredge!

Like most folks in 1934, twelve-year-old Kit is swing jazz crazy. So is her dad, and when he tells her that he remembers Slim Simpson, the famous bandleader, from his high school days right there in Cincinnati, girl reporter Kit suddenly has an idea. Perhaps there's an article for the Cincinnati newspaper in this for her to write. Perhaps she can wrangle an interview with the jazzman through Mrs. Burns, the owner of the theater for whom Kit had already solved the mystery of her stolen cashbox. Kit quizzes her dad for information about the famous trumpeter and his band, and prepares her pitch for a story with the news editor. Gibb thinks it sounds like a good story about a big event and a local guy who's made the big time in jazz and gives her some clippings from the newspaper's "morgue," the file of earlier stories for background information.

After school the next day, with her notebook and well-sharpened pencil, Kit heads down to Burn's Theater and discovers something disturbing. The big glass display case at the front of the theater has been smashed and the promotional poster for the concert has been torn up and tossed on the sidewalk. Mrs. Burns is dismayed at the broken case, but agrees to help Kit meet Swingin' Sam Simpson and some other musicians and arrange an interview for the following afternoon. But then they discover that a strange message has appeared on the marquee out front:


It look like somebody wants Swingin' Slim's show to be a flop. But Kit's interview with Slim goes well, and with her background information and some great quotes from the star about swing jazz, Kit has high hopes that her by-line article will be good enough to run in the metro news section of the Sunday paper. But when she returns to the theater, something has happened that may mean there will be no concert at all by Swingin' Slim Simpson.

Hootie Shay, the baritone sax player, was barreling up the aisle at full speed. "Did you see anyone go through that lobby?" he asked Kit sharply.

", I didn't," Kit said.

"Darn!" said Hootie, wringing his hands. "Sorry, kid, but we're in the middle of a situation here. Somebody got into the theater and got into the greenroom while Slim went for an interview.

Somebody stole Slim's trumpet!"

It looks like Kit Kittredge is going to be wearing both her girl detective and girl reporter hats in Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's The Jazzman's Trumpet: A Kit Mystery (American Girl Beforever Mysteries) (American Girl, 2016). It's up to her to solve the theater mystery and find Slim's one-of-a-kind trumpet to save the show and her article. The show must go on, and the resourceful Depression-era heroine of the Kit Kittredge series is on it, in this installment in the spin-off Kit Mysteries series.

There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns and some sidekick sleuthing with her friend Stirling and some unexpected help from her mysterious new friend Trixie in a detective story set engagingly in the early 1930s swing music scene. Author Kimmel adds an appendix "Inside Kit's World," which brings young readers up to speed on the Depression days when the big bands ruled the radio and great horn players were becoming media stars. For fans of all the American Girl mysteries and particularly those who are fans of swing dancing, this one is the cat's whiskers.

The Kit Kittredge series, begun by author Valerie Tripp with Meet Kit: An American Girl, 1934 (American Girl), introduces middle readers to the period of the first year of the Great Depression, when Kit's father loses his job and heads west to find work while her mother turns their comfortable two-story home into a boarding house, Kit pitches in with her newspaper route, and the parlor radio is the main source of entertainment. Middle readers get the sense of a time different from their own, a time of great change, and get to know a resilient and adventurous character who manages to adapt to her own time.

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