Monday, March 10, 2014

Judy Cox, Ukulele Hayley

AUTHOR: Judy Cox
BOOK TITLE: Ukulele Hayley
GENRE: Children’s Early Chapter Book
PUBLISHER: Holiday House


You’ve probably heard the old saying, “Art imitates life”. In my case, it worked the other way around--my life was transformed by the research I did for my newest book, UKULELE HAYLEY.

I’ve been a musician for many years—playing electric bass guitar at clubs on the weekends; strumming a few “cowboy” chords on my acoustic six-string to entertain my Kindergarten students. But I’d never picked up a ukulele until I began to research my chapter book.

I knew that ukulele had been steadily gaining popularity for the past few years. In fact, you can hardly watch an ad on TV without hearing its lilting strains. I decided to use the ukulele as background for an early chapter book. I created a third-grade girl, Hayley, who overcomes her shyness when she learns to play, eventually standing up for her school’s music program in the face of budget cuts (also a timely issue). My husband had an old ukulele, so I decided to learn to strum a few simple chords at least, in order to accurately depict the process of learning.

I had no idea of the life-change that was about to take place.

The minute I strummed my first chord (a one finger C chord—you can learn how on my youtube video) I was captivated. The ukulele is such a cheerful little instrument! And so easy to play! I couldn’t help smiling every time I picked it up. Like Hayley, I couldn’t put it down. I played in the kitchen while cooking dinner. I played in parks. I played it instead of working on my book manuscript. Unlike my bass guitar, I could sing along with it. Unlike my six-string, I could play barre chords (barre chords allow you to make movable chords, necessary for swing music).

In my book, Hayley starts a ukulele club at her school. Before long, I started a ukulele club in my town. Soon I was teaching ukulele classes. My publisher asked me to make some instructional videos as book trailers.

It’s too soon to tell what impact my book will have on readers, but the ukulele sure has changed my life!

UKULELE HAYLEY came out to good reviews in Fall 2013. School Library Journal called it “a little gem”. I like to think that it was the “hands-on” research I did that made the book sing.
Here are links to my book trailers/instructional videos:
Ukulele Hayley Part One
Ukulele Hayley Part Two

UKULELE HAYLEY (from the front cover)
Everyone has a talent, right? Hayley is sure she has one, but she’s having trouble pinpointing it. Then she buys a ukulele at a yard sale. Learning to play takes practice, but it’s fun, fun, fun. Before long Hayley is strumming up a storm, and her classmates want in on the action. Then terrible news threatens not only the new uke band, but the whole school music program. Now it’s up to Hayley and her band to come up with a creative plan to keep their school rocking.

BIO: Judy Cox grew up near San Francisco. A retired reading specialist, she is the author of twenty-six books for children, and more than thirty short stories. Her books have been honored with awards such as the Oregon Spirit Award, Nevada Young Readers Award, Children’s Choices, TIME magazine Best Children’s Books of 2005 and 2009, and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe award. Judy plays the ukulele for fun and lives in Grants Pass, Oregon with her husband and imperious cat.

1 comment:

  1. What a great story! I've often found that research leads to interest in different things. Never thought about it leading to playing a different instrument though!