In honor of Mardi Gras, I wanted to share the book Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This book won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2016. This award is given to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of children’s books that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. In Trombone Shorty, Troy Andrews tells the story of how he got his nickname of “Trombone Shorty.” Living in New Orleans, Andrews grew up surrounded by music. He especially admired his brother who played the trumpet. One day, Andrews found a beaten up trombone, but fixed it up and started playing it. It was bigger than he was; hence, “Trombone Shorty.” He eventually had the opportunity to play on stage alongside famous jazz musician, Bo Diddley, at the Jazz Festival, marking the start of his lifelong music career. He would go on to play on the same stage at the Jazz Festival later in his life. No matter how tough life got for him, Andrews could always turn to music. Trombone Shorty is a heartwarming book that encourages children to follow their dreams, as well as never give up, even when times are hard.
I especially liked this book because it is a culturally diverse book that honors African Americans, without depicting them as victims of slavery or prejudice–as many books do. It also included words and phrases native to the culture being described (i.e. “Where y’at?”). The illustrations were also not stereotypical, and looked very realistic. Additionally, some pages featured a unique collage style. Some of the print is in different sizes and fonts, really adding emphasis to the important words.
Here is a link to one of Andrews’s band’s (Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue) songs: