Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews


Written by Troy Andrews

Illustrated by Bryan Collier

(2015) New York, New York

Abrams Books for Young Readers


2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner

2016 Caldecott Honor Book

SummaryTrombone Shorty is Troy Andrew’s autobiography that tells the story of how he went from being a young boy in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans to a famous jazz musician.  Andrews got his nickname (Trombone Shorty) after he found a beat-up trombone that was twice his size, which he carried around with him all the time, playing with his friends in their “Five O’Clock Band.” The story explains how Trombone Shorty developed his love for music and introduces readers to the culture of New Orleans.

Phrases to describe this book: Award-winner, autobiography, diverse, illustrated, nonfiction

Lexile Measure: 840L

ATOS Book Level: 4.2

Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions).

Suggested Delivery: Read aloud

Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: Using the “First Lines” reading strategy (explained here), read pages one and two. This book opens in an unusual way, using the call-and response technique commonly found in jazz music. Based on the first lines and illustrations, ask students to make some predictions about what the book might be about. Discuss the way the language is used.  Invite students to make observations about how the way the narrator speaks is similar or different to how the students talk.

During Reading: Have students create their own story retelling ropes that include settings, characters, problems, events, and solution/end. This will help remind students what they should be paying attention to while the story is being read. Have students write down the corresponding information with each symbol so they have each aspect of the story written down. This will require students to pay attention and will help improve their comprehension of the story.

After Reading: Using their retelling ropes, ask students to write a short retelling of the story on a piece of paper. Students should include setting, characters, events, and solution. This will help reinforce the overall story, and will help comprehension.

Writing Activity: Imagine you are the grown-up Trombone Shorty. Write a letter to your younger Trombone Shorty self. What will you say? Base your letter off of the character described in the book. Are you excited about the way things turned out? Do you have any tips for your younger self?

Additional Resources:

This video shows Troy Andrews “Trombone Shorty” playing with his band at the White House in 2012. This will allow readers to see and hear who the main character of the book is today, and will build their schema for the book.

This webpage from the ABRAMS Books website gives additional information about the book, Troy Andrews, reviews, as well as a short video trailer for the book.

Key Vocabulary:

  • Brass– any of various metal alloys consisting mainly of copper and zinc.
  • Festivala period of festive activities, cultural events, or entertainment.
  • Gumbo- a stew or thick soup, usually made with chicken or seafood, greens, and okra.
  • Heritage– something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition.
  • Hometown-the town or city in which a person lives or was born.
  • Inspiration– something that influences you to act or feel a certain way.
  • Instrument– a tool used to create musical sounds.
  • Jazz– a style of dance music, popular especially in the 1920s, arranged for large band and marked by intricate, driving rhythms, improvisation, and interesting melodies.
  • Mardi Gras– the day before Lent, celebrated in some cities, as New Orleans and Paris, as a day of carnival and merrymaking.

(all definitions obtained/modified from


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