The Jazzman's Trumpet

Published in 2015; author Elizabeth Cody Kimmel; illustrator Juliana Kolesova


Kit wins tickets to a sold-out jazz concert, and her boss at the newspaper tells her that if she writes a good enough story, he'll publish it in the regular paper, not just her usual column in the kid section. Thanks to her connections gained in A Thief in the Theater, Kit is able to watch while the jazz band sets up and rehearses for the concert. She gets to meet some of the members, too. During her first day of observing, Kit spots another girl about her age hiding in the theater. Kit talks to the girl, named Trixie, and learns that Trixie is a font of information about jazz in general, and this band in particular. Kit brings Trixie along with her the other days, having her pose as an assistant but really just enjoying hanging out with her. 

Kit does find it odd that Trixie seems enamored with the band's leader, Swingin' Slim Simpson, but is nowhere to be seen when they have a chance to meet him. She starts to wonder more when she notices some vandalism around the theater--broken advertisements for the show, screwed up marquee signage telling Slim to get out...but surely Trixie wouldn't do that. Maybe that sax player who's the opening act, who used to be good friends with Slim, but got rudely left behind when Slim's popularity soared. Or could the vandalism be connected to the angry letter to the editor in the paper, claiming jazz is a sleazy sort of thing and shouldn't be allowed. Those leads seem more likely that Trixie, who could just be very shy.

But the day before the concert, when Kit scores a brief interview with Slim, she sees Trixie dashing away from the theater, clutching something to her chest. Upon returning to the theater, Kit and Slim learn that Slim's trumpet is missing. A bit later, Kit visits Trixie (to apologize for standing her up; they were supposed to meet when Kit had her interview and there wasn't time for Kit to tell Trixie she couldn't meet). As she sits down on Trixie's bed, Kit discovers the trumpet under the covers! Trixie explains that she couldn't help but look at the instrument, and as she was holding it, she walked outside and got locked out of the building. Instead of trying to find a way back in and face the people inside, she panicked and ran. Kit is sure she can get the trumpet back to its owner, and takes it down to the theater. She's briefly accused of having arranged for it to be stolen during the interview so she'd get a better story, but the people who know her believe her story that a friend accidentally took it, and the mystery of the stolen trumpet is resolved.

That still leaves the question of who is behind the vandalism, and why Trixie has been acting so nervous. Kit remembers hearing about the act that was supposed to be playing at the theater, but lost out to Slim and his band when he failed to pay his deposit. She asks the theater manager about him, and her timing is just right--turns out that man has been posing as a member of the set-up crew, and they're able to blow his cover (just by calling out his real name and having him respond; not a clever man). So that's taken care of. Slim, who had thought Kit staged the trumpet theft, gives her an extra ticket he was hanging on to for "someone" in gratitude.

Stirling helps with the question of Trixie: Slim has a daughter named Beatrice, and he's estranged from his wife and his daughter. Kit goes over to Trixie's and confirms that she's Slim's daughter. Slim had sent some letters lately, but because of how hurt Trixie was when Slim first left them, her mother never gave Trixie the letters. But she agrees that Trixie should at least go to the concert with Kit's extra ticket. When they arrive, Kit gets a message to Slim to look for his daughter during the concert, and he quickly spots Trixie. He invites her up on stage, and Kit urges to go--she'll remember this for the rest of her life. And so father and daughter are reunited.

All of Kit's hard work--getting into the theater, scoring the interview, helping solve the vandalism--combined with the extra intrigue of Slim's daughter, pays off. Her story gets published in the "real" newspaper. She even gets paid five whole dollars (nearly $90 today).

Inside Kit's World

With the advent of radio, jazz exploded in popularity during the 1930s (the radio also helped minority musicians--their music could be heard regardless of segragation laws, since listeners couldn't see who was on the radio). Not everyone was a fan though; as is the stereotype, older generations didn't understand the new music, considering it just unpleasant noise. Moral crusaders even thought the fast dancing it encouraged could corrupt listeners, even infants. Fortunately for those of us who enjoy swing dancing, the critics were in the minority.


This book is dedicated to "my poet, TR, who speaks Jazz."

Thanks to the title of this book, I have the song "Jazzman" by Carol King stuck in my head. Not a bad thing, though. 

The titular missing trumpet is a plot point for about two chapters.

Stirling and Kit claim most crimes are committed for profit or revenge. Certainly, a lot are, but pinpointing the "main" reason for crime is really, really hard to do, especially when so many crimes are spur-of-the-moment, and there are so many different kinds of crimes.

One of my older relatives was in a swing band that put a CD. The cover of the CD was supposed to read "Swingin' Seniors" but thanks to a typo, it read "Swiggin' Seniors." We spent a lot of time commenting on how good they sounded, especially considering they were all drunk.

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