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by Kathy Price & illustrated by Andrew Glass

Age Range: 5 & up

Pub Date: April 22nd, 2002
ISBN: 0-618-04076-5
Publisher: Clarion

Why has no one ever before set the Bremen Town Musicians down where they could really resonate—the American South? Well, no matter, because first-time children’s author Price has imaginatively and rhythmically done that in an auspicious debut. Price is a storyteller and early-music specialist who really bends a few notes in this well-loved story, weaving a fun-filled retelling that brays, howls, and crows to be read aloud. To recap: When mule is told by farmer his days are done, he runs off in the footsteps of his ma to “canter up Bourbon Street, under jazz evenings soft as yellow silk.” That kind of siren song, to play trumpet like Louis Armstrong in New Orleans, carries him along to enlist hound, cock, and cat, all of whom are at the end of their luck, into a real, sho-nuff bebop and jazz a cappella band! Ultimately, the hungry quartet sing for their supper, unwittingly scaring off and clearing the house of some well-heeled jewel thieves. Being their own best admirers, they never do get to Bourbon Street, but spend their days at their well-provisioned crawfish shack, “howling down the moon to dance on a song and a dare.” Though a few Southernisms in the story are inconsistent with Louisiana-isms, and a bayou is not a swamp, these are forgivable in the exuberant spirit of language play. Illustrator Glass (Mountain Men, 2001, etc.) known for his books on the American frontier, crosses the river with his loose, colorful style to harmonize perfectly with this completely satisfying, must-have rendition of the age-old tale. (Picture book. 5+)