Monday, January 02, 2012

Lower Than A Snake's Belly Button: Everybody Gets the Blues by Leslie Staub

Moms and Dads
dogs and cats,
rodeo clowns in silly hats,
scary bullies,
beauty queens,
little old ladies in New Orleans.

Everybody has the blues sometimes, especially those post-holiday letdown blues. Sometimes it's the "I've got a right to sing the blues" kind when nothing goes our way. Sometimes it's the "Woke up this mornin'" type that comes down like a ton of bricks for no clear reason. What do you do when the blues come to stay?

Leslie Staub's forthcoming book takes on this universal emotion, reminding our little boy blue that he's got a lot of company when he's got the blues. All kinds of folks feel the same way from time to time. But in this case our boy has a mentor, Blues Guy, a burly tweed-clad guy with a horn who sits with him and sings and blows the blues so sweet and low that things begin to look up right away. Those bad-time blues float away into a sky that's, well, blue, but not blue anymore, just filled with sunshine and light, as light as our boy's heart.

Staub's Everybody Gets the Blues (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) has just the right rhyme and reason to deal with this quirky emotion. Our boy's got good stuff, a loyal pup, a fine bike, a ball and glove, toys, and a nice cityscape neighborhood, but when the blues set in, what he needs is a sympathetic friend and a song to lift his spirits and remind him that this, too, shall pass. R. G. Roth's illustrations, fabric collage in subdued blues and browns set against a pale pastel retro city world, are inspired, hitting just the right blue note here to empathize and yet lift the heart.

Goodbye, Blues Guy!

As Publishers Weekly puts it,"Writing cheerfully about sadness sounds like an oxymoron, but Staub performs this balancing act with casual grace."

As the old, old song says

Trouble in mind, I'm blue,
But I won't be blue always.
'Cause the sun's gonna shine
In my backdoor someday.

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