October 13 Birthday: PIANO STARTS HERE: THE YOUNG ART TATUM

Art Tatum, musician
Oct. 13, 1907-Nov. 5, 1956

Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum by Robert Andrew Parker (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008)

Mostly self-taught, Tatum began playing the piano as a young child. Because of his poor eyesight, he could not participate in many activities. The piano was his refuge and strength. Word spread and soon he was playing in cafes, bars and the local radio station in his hometown of Toledo. Written in first person, this is a humble story of a gifted child who becomes one of the all-time jazz greats.

Watch and listen to Art Tatum play “Humoresque” on YouTube, his signature tune.

October 13 Birthday: UNCOMMON TRAVELER: MARY KINGSLEY IN AFRICA

Mary Kingsley, adventurer
Oct. 13, 1862-June 3, 1990

Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa by Don Brown (Sagebrush, 2000)

Kingsley traveled through the pages of the books in her father’s library as a child. Caregiver of her parents until the age of 30, upon their death, Kingsley traveled to Africa. When this British explorer returned to England, she wrote about her observations.

Living on Earth Today offers an online profile of Mary Kingsley.