cover image Everybody Gets the Blues

Everybody Gets the Blues

Leslie Staub, illus. by R.G. Roth. Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-206300-9

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? “[S]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.)