Staub, a native of New Orleans, cloaks a worthy message in obscure metaphor.
Kids and adults get sad sometimes, and they can help lift each other up. The narrator, a young boy, goes from happy to tearful, saying, “Hello, blues. Hello, Blues Guy— / I feel all bad and mad and sad inside.” Illustrator Roth’s “Blues Guy” appears in a natty herringbone suit, doffing a fedora and carrying both a horn and a mod-looking gray cat. The gent comforts the boy with his presence: “Blues Guy sits there by my side, / sometimes talking, sometimes quiet.” They sing together: “We sing so loud, we start to rise, / We rise so high, we start to fly— / we fly to where someone else is crying.” Some readers might wonder whether—as Staub avows—dogs, cats and tiny babies get the blues, along with “scary bullies, beauty queens, / little old ladies from New Orleans.” And the matter-of-fact appearance and leave-taking of the enigmatic Blues Guy might prompt questions from perplexed preschoolers. Roth’s Photoshop-abetted collages combine pale backgrounds, angular cut-out figures and textures that incorporate dry-brushed paint, fabric, wood and inked line. This gently instructive meditation that examines sadness— “the blues”—as a shared emotion, might be useful as a springboard to discussion in some classrooms, clinics and homes.Hip and stylized—yet, given its important humanitarian message, curiously enervated. (Picture book. 4-8)