cover image Willie Jerome

Willie Jerome

Alice Faye Duncan. MacMillan Publishing Company, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-02-733208-7

On a steamy, summer day in the city-effectively evoked in Geter's (Dawn and the Round To-It) intentionally hazy but occasionally static oil paintings-Willie Jerome sits on the roof and blows his trumpet. ""Mama say he be up there making noise. I say he be up there making music,"" declares Willie's sister Judy, the cheerful African American girl who sings out this melodic if repetitious story. As she dances down the street, a shopkeeper ""wanna know why I'm smiling so""; she explains, ""I been groovin' to [Willie's] noonday songs. That's why I got this smile on my face. That's why I got this bop in my stride."" Though no one else appreciates her brother's incessant blowing, Judy continues to sing his praises. When Mama returns home from work, tired and irritable, Judy persuades her to listen to Willie's ""red hot bebop,"" whereupon Mama concludes that ""Willie Jerome can blow. If we had took time to listen, all us woulda known."" Though some readers may stumble over the idioms and grammatical spins of Judy's speech, Duncan's (The National Civil Rights Museum Celebrates Everyday People, reviewed Feb. 6) story has an engaging musical quality and a contagious enthusiasm. Ages 5-8. (Apr.)