Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews grew up in Tremé, a neighborhood that was awash in the vibrant music of New Orleans. At age four he began to play a trombone twice his size, earning him the nickname "Trombone Shorty." He and the trombone were rarely separated, and he picked up music from around him, going on to play what he calls a "musical gumbo."
This Caldecott honor book is his story, told in his voice. It is lavishly illustrated by Bryan Collier using a combination of pen and ink, watercolor, and collage. Collier embeds the theme of music literally floating through the air, in visuals such as balloons whenever Trombone Shorty plays music, or a hot air balloon at the end showing Trombone Shorty playing all over the world. A few clever symbols appear, such as Trombone Shorty sleeping with his trombone while circles (or circular breathing) float around his head. Collier admires Andrews and his friends for their persistence in imitating the adults around them, whose love of music overflowed and inspired these kids. The watercolors reflect a colorful childhood, while the photographs add a touch of nostalgia.
The story itself is not terribly engaging, but it's a fun read-aloud and could be a good introduction to a different kind of music. Bonus tip: go watch videos of Trombone Shorty playing in recent years after you finish the book. He holds his trombone almost absentmindedly, bringing it to his lips and playing it with an ease born of practice. It's wonderful to watch (and great to listen to as well.)
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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