This follow-up to Troy Andrews and Bryan Collier's Coretta Scott King Award–winning Trombone Shorty guides readers through the spirited streets of New Orleans. Having missed his band's practice, Shorty questions whether he has what it takes to lead. Wandering the streets in search of his friends, Shorty encounters different members of his community and asks them what it takes to be a leader.
Andrews's words blanket the audience in the sights, sounds and smells of all these encounters, while Collier's bold illustrations heighten their effects. Andrews describes street musician Tuba Tremé as "a giant of a man" who was "sweet as pecan pie." Tradition, Tuba Tremé tells Shorty, is important to leading--every bandleader "needs to know where music came from in order to move it forward." "Lola, the Creole Queen" next fills Shorty's belly with delicious food--and his heart with sage advice. Shorty asks her how she makes such amazing food and she answers, " 'Love. There's love in my food... As long as you love what you do, you will always be a success.' " Shorty's final encounter is with the "chief of the neighborhood Mardi Gras Indian tribe." Shorty needs dedication, Big Chief tells him. " 'Each year, all the Indians make new suits, hand-sewn from scratch,' " Big Chief says. " 'It takes a lot of time and patience, but... it's worth it.' " Collier's depictions of the brilliant colors of the suits of "the soul of Mardi Gras" pop from the page.
Troy Andrews's tribute to New Orleans and the music it has created is melodious and invigorating; Bryan Collier's visual interpretation carries the audience along on a distinctive and beautiful parade. The combo of text and illustration is well-tuned, and readers of any age are sure to find themselves thoroughly entertained. --Jen Forbus, freelancer