cover image The Blues of Flats Brown

The Blues of Flats Brown

Walter Dean Myers. Holiday House, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1480-2

An exceptionally talented junkyard dog gets his due in Myers's (Monster; Harlem) picture-book tribute to the blues. Though Flats would love to just play the blues on his guitar and sing all day, his owner, A.J. Grubbs, plans to throw Flats and his other dog, Caleb, into the vicious fighting ring. The two pooches flee and eventually land in Memphis, where Flats records a hit record. All the fame and attention paid to his dog gets Grubbs angry and he's soon on Flats's trail. Grubbs tracks Flats to a New York City blues club where, finally, the dog's music reaches the bitter man's heart. Myers's shaggy fantasy has the slow-and-easy pacing of a lazy Southern afternoon. His colorful phrases and dialect (Flats in New York City is ""as out of place as a three-legged skunk at a Georgia hoedown"") evoke the Mississippi and Tennessee settings, and his music industry scenarios will provide adults with a good chuckle. In Laden's (The Night I Followed the Dog) dusky-pastel world, the anthropomorphic Flats sports sunglasses and jeans, blending right in with other performers and nightclub folk. She shifts her palette to brighter hues when the canine shirks the junkyard for the big cities. Youngsters will likely take to this canine crooner. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)