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Cool Papa was a Bluesman and Clayton was his biggest fan, his best student and his only grandson. Now Cool Papa is playing in a heavenly band and Clayton's sadness is wailing inside him like a saxophone. Everyday since has been trouble - trouble in school, trouble at home - he just has to get away. With only the blues and his harmonica for company, Clayton takes to the subways of NYC. Williams-Garcia brings us another powerful story of family love and growing up - wonderful!— Leah Moore
— Harper Kids
A National Book Award Finalist that has earned 5 starred reviews
"This slim novel strikes a strong chord."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"This complex tale of family and forgiveness has heart." --School Library Journal (starred review)
"Strong characterizations and vivid musical scenes add layers to this warm family story." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"An appealing, realistic story with frequent elegant turns of phrase." --The Horn Book (starred review)
"Garcia-Williams skillfully finds melody in words." --Booklist (starred review)
From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.
Clayton feels most alive when he's with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen--he can't wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton's mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that's no way to live.
Armed with his grandfather's brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him.