Yolanda, 10 and her brother Andrew, 6 live with their widowed mother in Chicago. When Yolanda tells their mother that a classmate shot another child to death, that ends her days as a Chicago resident. Her mother, a paralegal, moves the family to a Michigan suburb with a good school system.
Yolanda quickly adjusts, after initially pining for the familiarity of her old neighborhood and the close proximity to her Aunt Tiny. Aunt Tiny is a large, husky woman with a large heart. She gives her piano to Yolanda, who is plainly talented and enjoys listening to and playing the classics. A delightful, intelligent woman, Aunt Tiny owns several hair salons in Chicago and her work has been featured nationwide and in magazines. Oprah Winfrey was a client at one of her shops.
Yolanda identifies with her aunt. Both are husky and buxom; both are outstanding cooks and both share a love for classical music and reading. Aunt Tiny as well as her sister-in-law, Yolanda and Andrew's mother are professionals who set their sights high.
Andrew, also is musically talented. A harmonica afficionado, the boy has been playing songs and setting background sounds to music since infancy. His harmonica was a gift from his late father, a police officer who died in a fishing accident. Yolanda was 4 at the time.
Andrew has a harder time in school; he rarely talks; cannot read and spends his free time thinking about music. A kind speech teacher takes Andrew under his wing and teaches him to read by applying the lessons to musical terms and interests, e.g. "B is for Bongo," etc. He also teaches Andrew how to read music.
Yolanda is fiercely independent and very bright. She can defend herself against any bully with reason, logic and a well applied foot in some cases. She is also very funny. When a group of older boys demolish her brother's harmonica, Yolanda comes up with a resourceful way of getting even with them and providing a new harmonica for her brother.
This is a wonderful story about a strong, intelligent black family with a very appealing cast of characters. The story ends on quite a blues note! I love it!