Cover image for The blues of Flats Brown
The blues of Flats Brown
Myers, Walter Dean, 1937-2014.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [2000]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 cm
To escape an abusive master, a junkyard dog named Flats runs away and makes a name for himself from Mississippi to New York City playing blues on his guitar.
Reading Level:
AD 510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.8 0.5 40211.

Reading Counts RC K-2 3.1 2 Quiz: 21560 Guided reading level: NR.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
PIC.BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A runaway junkyard dog makes a name for himself playing blues guitar.

Author Notes

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsberg, West Virginia. When he was three years old, his mother died and his father sent him to live with Herbert and Florence Dean in Harlem, New York. He began writing stories while in his teens. He dropped out of high school and enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. After completing his army service, he took a construction job and continued to write.

He entered and won a 1969 contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children, which led to the publication of his first book, Where Does the Day Go? During his lifetime, he wrote more than 100 fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults. His works include Fallen Angels, Bad Boy, Darius and Twig, Scorpions, Lockdown, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Invasion, Juba!, and On a Clear Day. He also collaborated with his son Christopher, an artist, on a number of picture books for young readers including We Are America: A Tribute from the Heart and Harlem, which received a Caldecott Honor Award, as well as the teen novel Autobiography of My Dead Brother.

He was the winner of the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award for Monster, the first recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement, and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. He also won the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors five times. He died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness, at the age of 76.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 5^-8. Mississippi junkyard dog Flats Brown loves singing and playing the blues with his beloved old friend Caleb. When mean owner A. J. Grubbs decides to make them fighting dogs, the friends hit the road. In Memphis, Flats records a record that's so successful it gets Grubbs on his tail, but when Grubbs tracks him down in New York, it turns out Flats' blues can draw out and comfort the hidden hurt in even the coldest hearts. Steeped in the oral tradition, this adventure becomes a road trip through an important musical genre. Myers beautifully conveys the blues' unique roots and the way the music bestows comfort, catharsis, and healing. The narrator's vernacular, rhythmic and easy-rolling, has the feel of a timeless legend, and the vibrant, jewel-toned illustrations, dominated by moody, bittersweet, tonal variations of blue, are filled with rich detail, expressive characters, and fantastic landscapes. Flats and Caleb are a delightful canine duo who teach much about friendship and the joy and comfort music can bring. Words and music for the poignant "The New York City Blues" are included. While it's Flats' and Caleb's song, when it's sung by children, it will become theirs, too, showing how blues at its best is a participatory experience, universal in message and emotional impact, and transcending time and place. For another book about music's many gifts, turn to Gwendolyn Battle-Lavert's recent picture book The Music in Derrick's Heart [BKL F 15 00]. --Shelle Rosenfeld

Publisher's Weekly Review

"An exceptionally talented junkyard dog gets his due in this picture-book tribute to the blues," said PW. "Youngsters will take to this canine crooner." Ages 4-8. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 3-Walter Dean Myers' fun picture book (Holiday, 2000) about a junkyard dog turned celebrated blues musician works wonderfully as a book/cassette kit thanks to Charles Turner's spirited narration and Mark "Dog" Deffenbaugh's bluesy guitar strumming. Nina Laden's vibrant pastel paintings capture the adventures of the anthropomorphic titular character, a teenaged pooch in hip attire who loves playing the blues. The action begins when Flats and his much older canine pal, Caleb, escape from their cruel, self-hating owner, A.J. Grubbs, a character Turner plays with gruff abandon. As street musicians in Mississippi, Flats plays guitar and Caleb accompanies by rattling a pair of bones. They wow the masses with such tunes as "The Freaky Flea Blues" and "The Mangy Muzzle Stomp." With Grubbs on his tail but leaving his arthritic pal Caleb behind, Flats takes off for the Big Apple where he finds even greater success. Myers' story offers meaningful messages about friendship and music without being too didactic or preachy. Gentle sound effects (crickets chirping in a nighttime scene, an approaching train, the sounds of dogs barking) enhance the action. Turner's energetic narration keeps the story humming along. Deffenbaugh's guitar work pleases the ear, and his performance of "The New York City Blues"(music and lyrics by Myers) is the program's highlight. This story about the joys of blues music has found a format that serves it very well.-Brian E. Wilson, Evanston Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.