Reviews for Double Bass Blues

by Andrea J. Loney

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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 © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A young musician is inspired by the beat and rhythm of his commute.Nic's journey begins with an enthusiastic "Ziiiiiiiiiiip!" and a contemplative "Hummmmm" as he's applauded in orchestra. Then, with his double bass strapped to his back, he trades the trees and space of his suburban school for towering buildings and city buses. He dodges dogs, bullies, and rain, hustling home to warm hugs and a jazz jam session replete with onomatopoeic improvisations taken from his commute. The, "whoosh" of the bus's windshield wipers pairs with the "plunk" of rain and the "clap" of his classmates as Nic releases the sounds and sights of the afternoon through his music. Acrylic-paint illustrations include geometric squiggles and swirls that outline and emphasize musical vibrations and the spare, expressive text. Defined shapes are rendered in a vibrant palette that brings out the range of colors present in the characters' skin tones. Nic, who presents black, is a blend of blues, blacks, golds, and reds, with his boxy, spiked hair a muted mixture of oranges, browns, pinks, and greens. One exceptional double-page spread uses interlocking triangles to separate scenes that capture Nic's movement from the suburbs to the city. This journey is also expressed in the stenciled endpapers, the front showing Nic in his orchestra and the back, at home, jamming.Simple language complements complex paintings to create the perfect literary melody. (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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.--Maryann Owen Copyright 2010 Booklist