cover image Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble

Ol’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble

Jan Huling, illus. by Henri Sørensen, Peachtree, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-436-5

The story of the Bremen Town Musicians works just as well in the American South as it does in the Black Forest. Ol’ Bloo Donkey doesn’t have as much singing talent as he thinks he does—“Now, if you can imagine the sound an accordion makes fallin’ down a flight of stairs, you got some notion of the sound...”—but that doesn’t stop him from seeking his fortune in New Orleans with a similarly gifted group (Rusty Red Rooster’s voice sounds “like a player piano bein’ hit with an ax”). The illustrations are a surprise; in contrast to the antic narration, Sørensen (My Love Will Be with You) contributes thoughtful, painterly landscapes of the tin-roofed buildings and dry scrub of the South, and realistic portraits of the animals (save for the eye patch on One-Eyed Lemony Cat). Small black silhouettes adjacent to the main paintings add another layer of visual interest. Read-aloud audiences will giggle at the dialect, nonstop action, and atmospheric descriptions of Huling’s (Puss in Cowboy Boots) retelling: “There was gumbo and étouffée, muffalettas and po-boys, pralines and bread puddin’, and more besides.” Ages 6–10. (Sept.)