Enly and the Buskin' Blues

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 7
  • Reading Level: Grade 5

Twelve-year-old Enly Wu Lewis needs to go to band camp this summer.

It’ll help him follow in the footsteps of his dad, a musician who died when Enly was too young to even remember him. Enly isn’t sure if he has his dad’s talent, but he wants to find out.

There’s just one hitch: The camp is too expensive, and Enly’s mom is saving every penny for his older brother’s college tuition. So Enly sets out to earn the money for camp on his own by busking—playing music on the sidewalk in the touristy part of town. What could go wrong?

For one thing, the only instrument he can afford is a melodica, a cross between a harmonica and a keyboard, which he can only kind of play. And for another thing, it’s harder than Enly expected to make serious money busking.

When someone drops a winning scratch-off lottery ticket into his tip box, Enly thinks it’s the answer to all his problems. But he’ll still have to face teenage thieves, his disgruntled best friend, a rogue pet pig, and his own family if he wants to achieve his dreams.

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Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 7
Reading Level Grade 5
Category Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Class, Diversity, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 208
Publication Date 2023-02-07
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV031040, JUV013060, JUV039070
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Guided Reading Level X
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Reviewed, and eSource

Author: Jennie Liu

Jennie Liu is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She has been fascinated by the attitudes, social policies, and changes in China each time she visits. Her young adult novels have won honors including a Freeman Book Award Honorable Mention and an In the Margins: Best Books for Teens award. She lives in North Carolina with her family.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Enly and the Buskin' Blues

Twelve-year-old Enly Wu Lewis needs to go to band camp this summer. It’ll help him follow in the footsteps of his dad, a musician who died when Enly was too young to even remember him. Enly isn’t sure if he has his dad’s talent, but he wants to find… View available downloads →

Enly and the Buskin’ Blues: An Interview with Author Jennie Liu

Meet Enly Wu Lewis, aspiring musician. He’s determined to go to band camp, but with his mother working two jobs and saving every penny for his older brother’s college tuition, he’s going to have to earn enough money himself. Enly decides to earn money busking on the streets of Altamont,… View →

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Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“A heart-warming story with many lessons about taking responsibility for attaining what you most desire, even in the face of setbacks. Reviewer Rating: 5” —Children’s Literature

School Library Journal

“This fast and furious plot will have readers alternately cringing and cheering at Enly’s impulsiveness, fully invested in this protagonist’s success. While the tone is light, some serious issues are gently explored: gentrification, grief, wealth and lack of it, family ties, and friendship.”—School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews

“A quick-paced coming-of-age story exploring music and family expectations.”—Kirkus Reviews

Rebecca Petruck

“Encourages readers who need to be seen as well as those who need to see . . . I tip my hat to Liu—and put a tip in the hat for Enly!”—Rebecca Petruck, author of Boy Bites Bug and Steering Toward Normal

Alan Gratz

“A fast-paced, quirky caper with an authentic middle-grade voice.”—Alan Gratz, New York Times bestselling author

Bobbie Pyron

“Witty and wise.”—Bobbie Pyron, author of Lucky Strike