We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2015 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, as well as reading challenges that we have pledged to join this year.
Several months back, I shared a Nonfiction Wednesday post on Bebop, Soul, and Jazz in Little Melba’s Big Trombone and Hey Charleston! Book kindreds recommended that I find another related title Trombone Shorty. Dutiful bibliophile that I am, I hunted this title down in our library and was wonderfully rewarded.
Written by: Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews Pictures by: Bryan Collier
Published by: Abrams Books For Younger Readers, 2015
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I visited New Orleans a few years back and fell in love with the city’s distinct feel, taste (love gumbo and beignets!) and its rhythmic pulse that can be felt and sensed in one’s bones. This is the very city that raised Troy Shorty – a young man surrounded by music – from the sounds in the streets to his big brother, James who played the trumpet and constantly encouraged Troy to follow him. Troy immersed himself in brass bands, parades, beaded necklaces, Mardi Gras!
Troy did not allow the lack of resources – the absence of instruments – to stop him and his friends from creating music. They made their own instruments!
We might have sounded different from the real brass bands, but we felt like the greatest musicians of Tremé. We were making music, and that’s all that mattered.
Then one day I found a broken trombone that looked too beaten up to make music anymore. It didn’t sound perfect, but finally with a real instrument in my hand, I was ready to play.
Bryan Collier, the amazing artist of this picturebook, shared in his Illustrator’s Note that this is one of his favourite images in the entire book:
The fact that Troy and his friends constructed their own makeshift instruments until they could get real ones conveyed both their strong desire to imitate the older musicians they loved and to make music themselves. To me, this showed the hope and promise in these boys. So I decided to give them crowns in my painting, because, early on, they were like royalty.
This book was written with the voice of Troy Andrews himself. After reading this picturebook biography, I realized that he must have been a musical prodigy – look at these swag pictures of him when he was younger:
Trombone Shorty was very determined to learn his instrument, notwithstanding its being larger than him when the music found him at a very young age. He would even go to sleep with his instrument – because that is how he and his music are one:
I also loved learning how Troy set up the Trombone Shorty Foundation: “Experienced instructors help young, underserved musicians express themselves and pursue their dreams while also supporting their community.”
Here is a youtube clip that I found of Trombone Shorty performing in New Orleans. Enjoy!