Trombone Shorty
written by Troy Andrews
illustrated by Bryan Collier

Collaged image from 'Trombone Shorty.' Tiny Troy Andrews whales on his 'bone.'

Troy Andrews' Trombone Shorty
illustrated by Bryan Collier

Book review by Tamara Splingaerd

Ages 5-10

Origin Story of an Inspirational New Orleans Musician

Do you hear perpetual chanting emanating from your playroom? Does your child consider your Tupperware cabinet a drum set? Are your family meals usually served with tapping and humming? Have you ever found a pile of tissues or large bowls of uncooked oatmeal because the containers have been appropriated 'for the band'?

If so, you have a budding musician in your home, who will be enchanted with the true story of another young musical prodigy.

Summary - Trombone Shorty

Louisiana native and renowned Supa-Funk Rock musician Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Andrews shares his memories of growing up in the Treme District of New Orleans.

Surrounded by music all hours of the day, young Troy and his friends long to emulate their neighborhood musicians, including older brother James.

When he discovers a discarded trombone, young Troy joins one of the street parades. James spots him hauling the enormous instrument - twice his size - and proudly calls out: "Trombone Shorty!"

Photo, cropped: Troy Andrews as a young child playing in a parade

The name sticks. Troy eventually grows up to start a band called "Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue," traveling the world, playing his unique style of music.

Review - Trombone Shorty

Caldecott award-winning illustrator Bryan Collier reproduces the sounds of The Big Easy using watercolor and collage.

Layers of portraits, instruments, and musical imagery - balloon drifting through the air, sound waves with shadow faces, drifting steam - create a beautiful blurring of the senses.

Don't be surprised if you hear faint sounds of a big brass marching band as you read along.

The swirling smells of veggies, shrimp and sausage will hit you square in your sentimental senses as grown-up Troy explains how he blends musical styles to create his own unique genre:

"…different styles combined to make my own musical gumbo!"


Connoisseurs of both art and music will love this Caldecott Honor picture book. It's an inspirational true story designed to give our kids a taste of New Orleans musical culture.

There's the added bonus of showing kids how far you can go when you're determined. But more importantly, for all of the other 'shorties' out there singing loudly and marching along to their own beat, Trombone Shorty "…is a story about music".

More Caldecott books.

More books about the black experience.

More of Tamara's reviews.

New! Comments

Have your say!

Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.

The Caldecott Medal:
List of Winners
and More Reviews

Show your reviewer some

Do you know enough Seuss to excel?