“Community takes center stage in this performance by Blasi and Evans that touches hearts and inspires good.”
Based on the true story of Hosea Missouri Taylor Jr., Hosea Plays On follows Hosea through a seemingly simple day: he leaves his house, greets a neighbor kid, takes the bus to the public market, and plays his saxophone outside his favorite coffee shop, wowing a crowd of onlookers who plop some tips in his velvet-lined case. But as the day and story ends, Hosea’s deeper contribution to the community emerges unexpectedly in a poignant act of kindness and generosity as he uses his earnings to gift a trumpet to the neighbor kid he first greeted, a selflessness readers realize he has actually repeated multiple times with other aspiring musicians. The skillful development of the storyline—complete with the suspense created by Hosea’s thought that “Maybe—just maybe—he would earn enough today” and culminating in a moment of epiphany and delight for the reader—stirs emotions and sparks inspiration. Rich descriptive phrases (“Hosea clomped down the steps and shuffled through brittle, dancing leaves.”) are hallmarks of the story and make for a beautiful reading experience. The illustrations, awash with vibrant colors and beautifully executed in a style distinctive to Evans, are playful and show that Evans remembers (as is forgotten too often in books based on true stories) that exact realism in illustrations can be overrated when presented with the opportunity to inspire and entertain.
This heartwarming picture book (based on a true story) depicts a day in the life of Hosea Taylor, a musician who—with his charm, talent, and generosity—brought joy to everyone he met.
Every day, Hosea takes the Number 42 bus into the city to play his shiny brass saxophone—and to hopefully earn enough money. Setting up in his favorite place, Hosea makes sweet music as people greet him with a smile, a little girl dances, and crowds surround him. A surprise ending reveals what the money is really for. Kathleen Blasi’s delightful text and Shane Evan’s colorful images capture the real-life closeness between the much-loved Hosea—who shared his passion for music and life with everyone—and his community.
An Author’s Note explains how Blasi learned about Hosea Taylor (1948-2016), and what compelled her to write his story.
Hosea Plays On is based on the true story of Hosea Missouri Taylor Jr. The final page of the book includes a more detailed history of Hosea and what he meant to his community. Can you think of someone in your community that behaves selflessly and helps others? How could you thank them for their efforts? How could you be a positive influence on others yourself?
Hosea worked hard and saved money until he had enough to complete his purchase. Was the wait worth it to Hosea? How can you set up a system to save money?
Hosea shares his talent for music with those around him. What talents do you have? How can you share them?
Kathleen M. Blasi enjoys shining a light on the stories of everyday heroes. Active in the children’s writing community, she is a former Co-Director of the Rochester Children’s Book Festival, for which she received the 2015 New York State Reading Association Literacy Advocate Award. Kathleen lives with her family in Upstate NY, where, through writing workshops, she fosters the curiosity of young storytellers. Visit her online at kmblasi.com and on Twitter @kmblasi.
Shane W. Evans loves to dream. First he dreamed of opening his own art studio. He did that in 2007. Shane’s books include We March; Olu’s Dream; and Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, a 2012 Coretta Scott King Medalist. When he isn’t on the road, Shane dreams at home in Kansas City, MO. Visit him online at www.shaneevans.com.
For my parents, Frank and Gloria McAlpin, whose circle of kindness always has room for one more.
I thank God for the vision and hands to guide me. This book is dedicated to the memory of Pat Doughtery and his family, to all who graced the School of the Arts and Monroe High School, and to the city of Rochester, NY, that we all called home, the city that made "Hosea Play" and all of us play along.
“Hosea’s only stated goal is to make “enough” money, but the text leaves readers wondering what he needs money for. Locals flock to Hosea as he plays through the sunshine and rain.”
“‘You ready to learn?’ Hosea says. Hosea does more than just entertain; he makes his own community as he shares his music and his warmth.”