The Middle-Child Blues

Overview

A clever, bluesy riff on middle-kid angst

Lee has the low-down, big-frown, sulkin?-all-aroundtown blues. His older brother gets all the big-kid privileges, and no one expects his little sister to do anything but be cute. And sometimes his family even leaves him behind! But when Lee breaks out his guitar and finally makes his voice be heard, he draws a big crowd. It turns out lots and lots of people share his middle-kid pain-and he loves how ...

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Overview

A clever, bluesy riff on middle-kid angst

Lee has the low-down, big-frown, sulkin?-all-aroundtown blues. His older brother gets all the big-kid privileges, and no one expects his little sister to do anything but be cute. And sometimes his family even leaves him behind! But when Lee breaks out his guitar and finally makes his voice be heard, he draws a big crowd. It turns out lots and lots of people share his middle-kid pain-and he loves how being stuck in the middle is making him the center of attention.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Leah Hanson
Lee is stuck in the middle. Overlooked, forgotten, confused. Too old for this, too young for that, Lee has a horrible case of the middle child blues. Feeling overshadowed by his older brother, not as cute as his younger sister, and completely disregarded by his parents, Lee reluctantly joins the family for a trip to the amusement part. As he looks around, his biggest fears seem to be confirmed—he is not the biggest, nor the smallest, just somewhere in between. "What's the use?" he wonders. And when it finally seems to be too much, Lee pulls out his guitar and puts his emotions into song. Before he knows it, he is drawing a crowd—he is on the TV! Other middle children join the chorus and sing their hearts out. And to his surprise, Lee's mom and dad sing because they are middle children too. After a roar of applause and a night in the spotlight, Lee sleepily falls into his "middle-child snooze." Crow's rhythmic text creates a blues beat that just begs to be read aloud, while Catrow's swooping illustrations create a colorful tune of their own. Lee's disgruntlement is highlighted by crowded scenes where his frown and scowl can hardly be seen. But when his moment to shine arrives, Lee confidently swaggers, with an Elvis curl of the lips, surrounded by bright, bold colors. The Middle Child Blues gives voice to every middle child's discontent and offers a satisfactory reminder that everyone in a family matters. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
Horn Book
Catrow's irreverent day-glo caricatures are in tune with Crow's catchy song of woe.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—What middle children haven't sung the blues about their place in the family hierarchy? Lee is stuck between his older brother and cute little sister. There's just not much to do in between, even when the family goes to the fair. He's too young to hang out with his brother, too old for the things his sister wants to do. He's definitely in a sulk. But then he picks up his guitar and begins to sing: "I've got the low-down,/big-frown/sulkin'-all-around-town/bummed-out/mid-kid blues." Soon a crowd gathers, and Lee is the center of attention. His parents and passersby join in, saying that they are middle children themselves, and admit that they have forgotten how rough that can be. Catrow's trademark pencil and watercolor illustrations are perfect for this story. Heads are oversized, and facial expressions exaggerated. The colorful illustrations dance all over the pages. This book is a winner.—Ieva Bates, Ann Arbor District Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Being stuck in between a big brother and a younger sister has put Lee in touch with the spirit of the blues. A family trip to the amusement park provides a vivid reminder of why being the middle child can be so bad. Their day begins with Lee, guitar in backpack and sporting a perfectly coiffed pompadour, being left in the driveway. Even getting lunch is no fun: "Ray can order a ‘Big Bun,' / and Kate's meal has a toy. / I get a plain cheeseburger / since I'm just the middle boy." Catrow's vibrant palette and frenetic style aptly depict this active family and their environs. His keen sense of proportion and angle keeps a scowling Lee at the center of the double-page spreads of bustling crowds and park rides. A series of humiliations ensues until the blues cannot be restrained. Lee breaks into his song of woe that attracts a crowd of birth-order misfits, finally singing his way to a realization that "I'm a kid like no other." This ode to all the "mid-kids" demands to be read aloud accompanied by plenty of foot tapping and grooving. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399247354
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/29/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,372,183
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristyn Crow lives in Layton, Utah.

David Catrow lives in Springfield, Ohio.

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