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YESTERDAY I HAD THE BLUES

Jeron Ashford Frame, Author, Paul Owen Lewis, Author, R. Gregory Christie, Author , illus. by R. Gregory Christie. Tricycle $14.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58246-084-0

In this upbeat tale, moods may color the way people look at the world, but family togetherness trumps all. Debut author Frame and the consistently masterful Christie (Only Passing Through) riff on the range of human emotions with the agility of longtime collaborators, and the result is a book that truly sings. "Yesterday I had the blues," begins the African-American boy narrator. "Those deep down in my shoes blues,/ the go away, Mr. Sun, quit smilin' at me blues." But today is definitely looking up. "I got the greens./ The runnin' my hand along the hedges greens./ .../ The kind of greens make you want to be Somebody." Jaunty, irregular typography acts as tempo and dynamic markings, underscoring the musicality of Frame's text. The boy then muses on the states of mind of everyone in his family, a subject well suited to Christie's visual finesse. The artist's off-kilter perspectives and playfully skewed proportions reinforce the intensity and fluidity of mood swings, while the array of saturated, textured hues infuse each spread with emotional depth. Christie attributes Daddy's case of "the grays" to a parking ticket, older sister Tania performs her "indigo" funk to the hilt. Other moods will be all too recognizable to readers (when Mama spots her younger children bouncing on the bed, she gets the reds—"Look out!"). It's clear that in this family, even when moods are mercurial, love endures—and that, says the boy, makes life "all golden." Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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