February 2017


Trombone Shorty

by Troy Andrews

Hailing from the Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews got his nickname by wielding a trombone twice as long as he was high. He was a child prodigy, and Andrews was leading his own band by age six. Today, this Grammy-nominated artist has reached international stardom, and he headlines the legendary New Orleans Jazz Fest. Following his dream of becoming a musician, despite the odds, Trombone Shorty’s autobiography celebrates perseverance, the power of music, and the rich cultural history of New Orleans.

A Note from the First Lady:

Dear Read20 Book Club families,

IWhen explaining why he wrote this book, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews said, “to inspire hope in kids who might be growing up under difficult circumstances, but who also have a dream, just like I did.” Trombone Shorty teaches us that dreaming and believing are vital to living the life you want, and that practice and hard work are key to success. Whether learning to read or to play a sport or instrument, this book inspires readers to dream big and to go after those dreams with dedication, perseverance, and commitment. Anything is possible if you practice, and practice a lot!

This book also highlights the rich cultural heritage of New Orleans, one of our most colorful U.S. cities with unique Cajun and Creole influences. As a place where so many cultures melded together in one city, New Orleans is famous for its unique music, food, and celebrations, especially Mardis Gras!  I hope you enjoy learning more about New Orleans and how the place and heritage where Trombone Shorty was from came to influence his future.

Keep up the great reading,

Crissy Haslam
First Lady of Tennessee

Fun Family Activities for the Book of the Month

  1. Listen to Trombone Shorty.  Before you begin reading the book, play audio recordings of his music online. Guess what instruments are featured in the music and talk about the unique musical style. Have you ever played an instrument? If not, what instrument would you be interested to learn? How would you go about learning to play it? This introduction will help provide the context for Trombone Shorty’s story.
  2. The Art of Autobiography. Trombone Shorty is called an autobiography, because it is an account of a person's life written by that person. Discuss the authors’ choices across the book about what aspects of his life he chose to emphasize. How did he highlight the people, places, and ideas that influenced his life, career, and accomplishments? What sounds, sights, smells, and experiences in his community shaped his development? Use this book as a guide to write your own autobiography. Remember to think strategically about what aspects you choose to emphasize and why they are important to your life story. After you finish writing the story of your life, talk about how the future chapters may unfold. What do you dream of accomplishing in the future? Remember to dream big!
  3. The Influence of Background. For Trombone Shorty, his story begins with the place and heritage where he is from. The grandson of a New Orleans musician, Trombone Shorty grew up in the neighborhood of Tremé, where “any time of day or night you could hear music floating in the air.” Describe your own place of origin. How do you think your background has influenced who you are today and what you dream of becoming in the future? 
  4. Learn More About New Orleans. New Orleans is a vibrant and unique city with its own style of music, flavors of spicy Cajun foods, and special festivals and celebrations. Perhaps the city is most famous for Mardi Gras, and this year the celebration will be on Tuesday, February 28. Take time to research more about Mardi Gras, including its history and traditions to celebrate with music, parades, costumes, and food. Watch this video to find out more about celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans and how the holiday came to be synonymous with the city.