Everybody Gets the Blues

Overview

Chase those dreary blues away!

Everybody gets the blues sometimes—dogs and cats, moms and dads, even tiny babies. Just take a look around. If you help someone else who’s feeling sad, you might find that your blues are gone. Or maybe the Blues Guy will come along, to listen or sing the blues with you and sit by your side. A native of New Orleans, Leslie Staub wrote this story after experiencing Hurricane Katrina. Yet this book’s rhythmic, bluesy text and hip, eye-catching ...

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Overview

Chase those dreary blues away!

Everybody gets the blues sometimes—dogs and cats, moms and dads, even tiny babies. Just take a look around. If you help someone else who’s feeling sad, you might find that your blues are gone. Or maybe the Blues Guy will come along, to listen or sing the blues with you and sit by your side. A native of New Orleans, Leslie Staub wrote this story after experiencing Hurricane Katrina. Yet this book’s rhythmic, bluesy text and hip, eye-catching illustrations are just right for anyone who’s ever felt those mysterious feelings of sadness—then found that hope and sunnier skies are close at hand.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Writing cheerfully about sadness sounds like an oxymoron, but Staub (Bless This House) performs this balancing act with casual grace. “Sometimes I’m happy/ under the great blue sky,” the boy narrator says, tossing his baseball cap in the air. “Other times, I cry and cry./ And it’s ‘Hello, blues. Hello, Blues Guy—/ I feel all bad and mad and sad inside.’” Blues Guy, a sweet-faced, bulky gentleman dressed in tweed, sits with the boy, radiating sympathy and asking nothing. They sing together (“I’ve got the blues so bad,/ I want to cry, cry, cry”), and the strength of their song lifts them into the sky to bring comfort to “everyone who’s feeling low.” Who’s blue? “cary bullies,/ beauty queens,/ little old ladies from New Orleans.” Roth’s (Busing Brewster) flat, cutout figures have a retro feel, but reflect the present-day world with figures of many ages, colors, and sizes. Staub’s verses scan as neatly as an old radio hit, and the message that sadness can be turned outward for the comfort of others feels like a viable solution rather than merely sappy. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Mary Hynes-Berry
All too often, children are given the impression that afflictive emotions such as feeling sad or angry are neither normal nor nice. In fact, as this lovely picture book tells us, everybody does get the blues—"moms and dads, dogs and cats, rodeo clowns in silly hats, scary bullies, beauty queens, little old ladies from New Orleans, tiny babies, big kids too." The boy who narrates the story imagines a blues musician sitting down with him and helping him both acknowledge and sing the blues away. R.G. Roth's somewhat stylized illustrations are predominated by brown tones but every picture includes a touch of red. In early childhood classrooms, this book could complement an exploration of emotions or it might be part of a music unit. At the same time, it's a good book to have around when moms and dads, tiny babies and big kids start feeling blue. Reviewer: Mary Hynes-Berry
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A young boy is feeling "so bad and mad and sad inside." The Blues Guy appears and commiserates, listening to his problems and then singing with him. The boy and the Blues Guy then "rise so high" that they fly to where other sad people are ("moms and dads,/dogs and cats,/rodeo clowns in silly hats") and sing the blues to comfort them: "You're not alone!/Everybody gets the blue-woo-woo-wooze./Everybody gets the blues." The text wanders, sometimes falling into doggerel verse, other times making no attempt at rhyme at all. It's difficult to understand where the child appeal lies here. Why the boy is sad is never explained or even hinted at, making it difficult for children to relate to him. It is unlikely that the majority of youngsters in the target audience are going to have much exposure to blues as a musical genre; they may not connect the Blues Guy holding a trumpet with jazz musicians and could find this large stranger who appears out of nowhere unsettling. The illustrations, hand drawn, combined with collage and then designed in Photoshop, use soft earth tones and bold patterns and have an interesting layout. They do support the text, but the text is flimsy. Better books on feelings abound, including Jeron Ashford Frame's Yesterday I Had the Blues (Tricycle, 2003) and Dr. Seuss's My Many Colored Days (Knopf, 1996).—Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Staub, a native of New Orleans, cloaks a worthy message in obscure metaphor. Kids and adults get sad sometimes, and they can help lift each other up. The narrator, a young boy, goes from happy to tearful, saying, "Hello, blues. Hello, Blues Guy— / I feel all bad and mad and sad inside." Illustrator Roth's "Blues Guy" appears in a natty herringbone suit, doffing a fedora and carrying both a horn and a mod-looking gray cat. The gent comforts the boy with his presence: "Blues Guy sits there by my side, / sometimes talking, sometimes quiet." They sing together: "We sing so loud, we start to rise, / We rise so high, we start to fly— / we fly to where someone else is crying." Some readers might wonder whether—as Staub avows—dogs, cats and tiny babies get the blues, along with "scary bullies, beauty queens, / little old ladies from New Orleans." And the matter-of-fact appearance and leave-taking of the enigmatic Blues Guy might prompt questions from perplexed preschoolers. Roth's Photoshop-abetted collages combine pale backgrounds, angular cut-out figures and textures that incorporate dry-brushed paint, fabric, wood and inked line. This gently instructive meditation that examines sadness— "the blues"—as a shared emotion, might be useful as a springboard to discussion in some classrooms, clinics and homes. Hip and stylized—yet, given its important humanitarian message, curiously enervated. (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152063009
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,331,299
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Leslie Staub  is the illustrator of the bestselling Whoever You Are by Mem Fox and the author/illustrator of Bless This House. As a native of New Orleans, she wrote Everybody Gets the Blues after living through the Katrina disaster. She now resides an hour north in Folsom, Louisiana.

R.G. Roth  is the illustrator of This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt, which was a Nick Jr. Magazine Best Book, and a variety of other picture books. He lives in Hudson, Ohio, with his wife and two daughters.

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