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Frankie Finds the Blues

About the Story

When Frankie’s grandmother invites him to a blues concert, he’s hesitant at first—he loves hip hop! But he can’t resist his beloved grandmother’s invitation. Little does he know, that night ignites his passion to learn to play the guitar. Frankie dreams that one day he, too, would play the blues! Along the way, an afternoon in the park opens a door for Frankie that proves to be life-changing. He not only learns to play blues guitar, he also discovers the roots of blues music, its lineage from Africa to the United States, and the profound influence on popular music.


“Frankie Finds the Blues is an absolutely lovely and great story of a child learning from his grandmother about this great music and the intergenerational communication and exchange of culture. Joel Harper has a winner here! This is a milestone, a first, a literary coup! “Frankie” is written with love, beauty, great care and respect – a real story. I can’t tell you how much a story like this would had have meant to my young and excited soul back in the early 50’s when Blues music struck its chords deep within me.”
– Taj Mahal

“I absolutely love this book! I wish every kid who loves music could get a chance to read this and discover not only how fantastic the Blues are, but understand why they are the living roots of so much of the music we love today.—from Hip Hop and Rap, to Classic and new R&B—even Pop, Rock and Dance. Joel and Gary make the music come alive as something as much fun to play, as it is inspiring to learn about.”
– Bonnie Raitt

“The blues is such an important part of American music and Joel’s book does an amazing job in introducing the music to the next generation. The blues has been with me since my childhood – while we were largely known for singing gospel, Pops’ guitar laid the foundation for our music and he was playing the blues. I hope every child gets to read this book and falls in love with the blues the way that I did.”
– Mavis Staples

“Blues is an original American musical art form of great depth and endless variation. Joel Harper’s book Frankie Finds the Blues introduces Blues music to children in a fun, engaging and understandable way. Blues is not a fad, it can be enjoyed one’s entire life –– Blues music is my comforter when I’m down and my buddy when I’m up. It’s great for children to understand and benefit from this feeling. I am happy to see that Joel Harper’s heartwarming story (with Gary Kelley’s captivating artwork) presents a book for children about the blues which I hope may make Blues deeply resonate with the reader as it did with me. Other threads running through the narrative are also important to get early on– like respecting your elders and staying true to yourself while following your individual path with heart. ––a perfect job.
– Charlie Musselwhite

“Frankie Finds the Blues, Joel has captured an important story. When you know your history and embrace the present it equals a bright future.”
– Keb’Mo’

“Joel Harper’s book, Frankie Finds the Blues, with Gary Kelly’s artwork, is the ideal vehicle to open new minds and ears to such a vital music form. The roots of all of American popular music can be found in the blues, and this story illustrates the value in understanding and respecting the history of American music in general. I’m so hopeful that children who do read this book, and their parents and grandparents who read it with them, will continue to enjoy all music trends while finding a new love for the blues, as well.”
– Barbara Newman, President & CEO – The Blues Foundation

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