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Double bass blues
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Booklist Reviews

Young Nic plays an "epic" bass solo with his school orchestra and then travels across town to jam with a band made up of older musicians in this briefly worded tale of a boy who loves making music. A growling dog, a couple of teasing kids, a crowded bus, a cloudburst, and a broken elevator are not enough to discourage the boy from reaching his destination. Onomatopoeia and dialogue make up the few words used in the text. Gutierrez's acrylic paintings in rich colors exude movement and energy while delineating the sounds of the child's day, which he plays on his bass. Musical notes and measures decorate some pictures, while others show Nic in the background as he trudges along the street, carrying his huge bass. One intriguing double spread reveals an M. C. Escher–like staircase that seems endless to Nic as he lugs his instrument to his destination. The dreamy look on Nic's face clearly reveals the zone he enters when playing music, and readers will understand that Nic's talent brings him great joy. Preschool-Grade 2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

A young double bass player faces obstacles en route to his grandfather's house in this visual ode to the blues. Resting his cheek alongside melodic vibrations emanating from the instrument, Nic, who is black, seems harmoniously connected to his music. After a teacher applauds the performance, the diverse band packs up ("Epic solo, Nic!") and heads out ("Catch you later!"). But Nic faces quite a commute outside the band room's peace. With silent determination, he scales a suburban fence ("Ooof!"), faces a growling dog ("Grrrrrrrr!"), and navigates a bustling cityscape that drips with inclement weather ("Plunk, plunk, plunk") and public commentary ("It's bigger than him!" two children laugh, pointing at the bass). Persisting through storm and ridicule, Nic finally arrives at his grandfather's city building—only to find the elevator out. But his celebrated arrival, at a loving, musical oasis not dissimilar from the practice room, offers him the space to make music based on his journey's travails. Sparse, onomatopoeic text by Loney (Bunnybear) and vibrant, cubist-style art by Gutierrez (Mama and Me) combine to create a harmony of sound and emotion through a child's journey, his family's warmth, and music's restorative powers. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 1–3—In an explosion of vibrant color (thanks to Rudy Gutierrez's liquid acrylics), young Nic wins kudos for his double bass solo with the school orchestra, but faces a tough journey home. Lugging his beloved (but bulky) bull fiddle, the boy is harassed and taunted on his long trip, and is finally faced with an out-of-service elevator and multiple flights of stairs. Happily, he finds not only his loving grandfather waiting for him, but some of granddaddy's jazz-playing buddies sitting with their instruments at the ready, sorely in need of that boy and his bull fiddle. Colorful, full of movement, limited in text but loaded with emotion, this is an ode to the diversity of music and the determination of a talented kid. VERDICT A dramatic and emotional selection for older readers than the usual picture book audience, particularly kids who love music and have had their own tough journeys home. —Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.

Author Biography

Andrea J. Loney grew up in New Jersey with a love for music--in her school band she played the xylophone. After receiving an MFA from New York University, she joined a circus, then moved to Hollywood to write for film and television. Her previous picture books include the New Voices Award-winning biography Take a Picture of Me, James Van Der Zee! and Bunnybear. Currently a computer science instructor at a community college, Andrea lives with her family and their pets in a Los Angeles home filled with music . . . and picture books. Learn more at or on Twitter at @AndreaJLoney.

Rudy Gutierrez is an award-winning illustrator whose works have earned him a Pura Belpré Honor, an Américas Award, a Children's Africana Book Award, and a New York Book Award. A Bronx native, he now lives in New Jersey and teaches illustration at the Pratt Institute. In 2002, he was commissioned to create the cover for Santana's multi-platinum album Shaman, and his art hangs in the private collections of musical icons Carlos Santana, Clive Davis, and Wayne Shorter, among others. Learn more at or on Twitter at @Rudy_Gutierrez_art. - (Random House, Inc.)


After school orchestra practice, young Nic carries his double bass through rough neighborhoods to his grandfather's home, where he and Grandaddy Nic play jazz music with friends, delighting the neighbors. - (Baker & Taylor)

An aspiring musician whose life straddles the disparate worlds of the suburban school, where he is revered for his talents, and the bustling streets of his crowded home travels back and forth with his double bass, observing the symphony of his surroundings. Illustrations. - (Baker & Taylor)

A Caldecott Honor Book! A joyous celebration of family, community, and the unifying power of music, perfect for fans of Last Stop on Market Street.

Nic is an aspiring musician whose life spans two different worlds--his suburban school where he wows his friends in orchestra, and the busy city streets of his home where he's jostled by the crowd. Nic makes his way home from a busy day at school with a double bass on his back, the symphony of his surroundings in his heart, and a sweet surprise for the reader at the end of his journey. This is a sweet, melodious picture book about how dedication, music, and family can overcome any obstacle. - (Random House, Inc.)

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