Welcome to Windows & Mirrors where we feature books that provide us windows to lives outside our own and mirrors to our shared common human experiences.
Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King award winner Rita Williams Garcia’s Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is one of my favorite recent middle grade reads. Full of voice, the musicality and raw emotion of the blues, and complex family relationships, it’s a must read for any kidlit lover.
Clayton Byrd wants to play the blues harp (harmonica) with his grandfather Cool Papa and the Bluesman. But when life intervenes in the most tragic of ways, Clayton goes underground–literally into the New York City subway system–to learn some lessons about life, love, family, and the true meaning of the blues.
Still not convinced? The list of awards Clayton Byrd Goes Underground is as long as the subway trains he rides in:
- National Book Award Finalist
- Kirkus Best Books of 2017
- Horn Book Best Books of 2017
- Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017
- School Library Journal Best Books of 2017
- NAACP Image Awards Nominee
- Chicago Public Library Best Books
- Boston Globe Best Books of 2017
Check out this trailer for Clayton Byrd to hear the author read an excerpt of this stunning book:
Also, if you’re going to read any blogs in February, you should check out The Brown Bookshelf’s 28 Days series. It’s fantastic with daily author interviews and book featuring black authors.
Rita Williams-Garcia is the New York Times bestselling author of nine novels for young adults and middle grade readers. Her most recent novel, Gone Crazy in Alabama ends the saga of the Gaither Sisters, who appear in One Crazy Summer and PS Be Eleven. Her novels have been recipients of numerous awards, including the Coretta Scott King Award, National Book Award Finalists, Newbery Honor Book, Junior Library Guild, and the Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction. She served on faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children MFA Program and she resides in Queens, New York.