Sterling Crawford is a young kid living on the streets of New Orleans. It's 1906 and he's trying to support his mother who launders clothes for white people. Sterling plays trumpet, and what he'd really like is to learn from his idol, the legendary Buddy Bolden, who is playing a new kind of music that's turning New Orleans upside down.
Historically, not only is Bolden regarded as one of the founders of American jazz, but through the pages of this vivid novel, you will discover others whose genius created modern music. The beat and the strains of jazz surged into life even while African Americans struggled against deep racial divisions of the time: curfews designed to keep Black people out of the streets, a loaded justice system, and racial barriers that divided a nation.
For Sterling, life is not easy, but in the end he finds his way in this new and challenging musical world in this richly textured story of a culture that thrives against all odds.
"A misheard nursery rhyme gives rise to an imaginary friend who helps a little girl overcome loneliness. . . A playful spin on the new-baby theme."
"Welldon's early-20th-century New Orleans leaps off the pages and dances across the imagination, creating a vivid, tangible landscape, with the Louisiana heat steaming from each paragraph. Sterling's journey is common to many Black boys all over America, with dreams detoured at the whim of White people. However, Sterling's story is bracing and never without hope. A bluesy tale of talent and triumph."
— Kirkus Starred Review