Clayton Byrd yearns to be, like the grandfather he misses, “a true bluesman among bluesmen.” Musical in its language, this novel is both an homage to the blues and an exploration of familiar territory for Williams-Garcia, asking (as she did in the just-about-perfect One Crazy Summer) if a person can be singularly devoted to their art and still be a responsible and loving parent. An interesting examination of an artist’s life and choices. Grades 4–7.— Ga
From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.
Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live.
Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.
National Book Award Finalist * Kirkus Best Books of 2017 * Horn Book Best Books of 2017 * Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 * School Library Journal Best Books of 2017 * NAACP Image Awards Youth/Teens Winner * Chicago Public Library Best Books * Boston Globe Best Books of 2017
"This slim novel strikes a strong chord."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This complex tale of family and forgiveness has heart.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
"Strong characterizations and vivid musical scenes add layers to this warm family story.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“An appealing, realistic story with frequent elegant turns of phrase." —The Horn Book (starred review)
"Garcia-Williams skillfully finds melody in words.” —Booklist (starred review)
Rita Williams-Garcia's Newbery Honor-winning novel, One Crazy Summer, was a winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, a National Book Award finalist, the recipient of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and a New York Times bestseller. The sequel, P.S. Be Eleven, was also a Coretta Scott King Award winner and an ALA Notable Children's Book for Middle Readers. She is also the author of six distinguished novels for young adults: Jumped, a National Book Award finalist; No Laughter Here, Every Time a Rainbow Dies (a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book), and Fast Talk on a Slow Track (all ALA Best Books for Young Adults); Blue Tights; and Like Sisters on the Homefront, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Rita Williams-Garcia lives in Jamaica, New York, is on the faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children & Young Adults Program, and has two adult daughters, Stephanie and Michelle, and a son-in-law, Adam.
Frank Morrison is the award-winning illustrator of many books for young readers, including Jazzy Miz Mozetta by Brenda C. Roberts, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; Katheryn Russell-Brown's Little Melba and Her Big Trombone, a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book; and Gene Barretta's Muhammad Ali. Before becoming a children's book illustrator and fine artist, Morrison toured the globe as a break-dancer. He lives in Georgia with his family. You can visit him online at www.morrisongraphics.com.