PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews/The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch by Chris Barton


Hailing from the Trem√© neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. A prodigy, he was leading his own band by age six, and today this Grammy-nominated artist headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest.
Along with esteemed illustrator Bryan Collier, Andrews has created a lively picture book autobiography about how he followed his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, until he reached international stardom. Trombone Shorty is a celebration of the rich cultural history of New Orleans and the power of music.


Andrews and Collier's work comes together in beautiful ways to tell the story of Andrews adventures with a trombone.  Growing up in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans music was an important part of Andrews life even before he started playing. Once he found a broken trombone, he taught himself to play it leading to his nickname "Trombone Shorty".  Collier does an amazing job illustrating the story of Andrews rise from a young dreamer to an internationally known musician.  I really liked his notes at the end explaining why he portrayed things in certain ways such as balloons to symbolize the way the notes float through the air.  Well worth the 2016 ALA awards that it won, I can heartily recommend this book as not only a beautifully illustrated book, but a powerful story about the importance of dreams and passions and a willingness to work hard.


John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the fi rst African-American congressmen.


More stories like this one need to be told, stories about people that aren't as well known as say Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr., but who left their mark on the world nonetheless. I think what makes this story so remarkable is the way John Roy goes from slave to hired worker to student to justice of the peace and finally Congressman. Barton tells the story in a very straight-forward manner, not softening the difficult conditions that existed at that time, especially for former slaves.  But the story remains hopeful as John Roy's determination and passion comes through loud and clear.  Despite the way things fell apart after Reconstruction when the federal troops withdrew from the South and segregation exploded into life, John Roy continued to believe in his country and the laws of the land.  Tate's illustrations provide a nice backdrop to Barton's text, highlighting some of the key moments in both Lynch's life and the time period.  The inclusion of both author and illustrator notes as well as a timeline and references rounds out this well-presented, inspiring book.


  1. Another commonality between the books is the way a young person acts to pursue a dream. I hadn't thought of that connection till I read your reviews.

  2. Another commonality between the books is the way a young person acts to pursue a dream. I hadn't thought of that connection till I read your reviews.

    1. Very true. I personally like those kind of stories, I find them inspiring.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SERIES THURSDAY: Flight of the Bluebird by Kara LeReau -- Review & Author Post

EARLY READER REVIEWS: Kick it Mo! and Fergus and Zeke at the Science Fair

MMGM: Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams