Grief can be an overwhelming emotion to navigate. How are you supposed to handle seeing and talking to someone everyday and then one day they’re just totally gone? It is difficult for everyone, especially children. With their pure view of the world, they ask the questions that adults don’t have real answers to: What happens when we die? Where does the soul go?
In the beautifully written Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Rita Williams-Garcia presents the story of Clayton Byrd–Bluesman in training. He loves nothing more than to spend time with his grandfather and play his harmonica. Cool Papa is a blues musician and Clayton studies under him every chance he gets. This is much to his mother’s frustration since Juanita doesn’t care for the lifestyle that comes along with the music world.
When Cool Papa dies unexpectedly, it sends Clayton and his mother through a whirlwind of emotions. Juanita tries to reconcile losing the father that she had a tense relationship with ; the father that she felt abandoned her during childhood. Clayton is shattered having lost his best friend. His mom didn’t love Cool Papa the way he did. How could she possibly understand how he feels? Wrapped up in emotions Clayton skips school and what follows is a crazy adventure that involves traveling through the subway system, playing music for money with a group of teenage boys, and the police! To learn more about the outcome, grab a copy of Clayton Byrd Goes Underground from your local book retailer or library.
This book is for young readers 8-12 years old.