A banjolele is a very unique four-stringed musical instrument. It has a body like a small banjo, and the neck similar to a ukulele.

This expanded picture book is the story of how artist Valerie June and a banjolele became best friends and together created the song, Somebody to Love.

It begins in her childhood when Valerie receives the banjolele as a gift. She plays the instrument but others call it a toy. For years it goes unused before she finds it again and they reconnect. Now these two perform all over the world.

Bold and beautiful pictures accompany the text. In the last few pages you’ll find a brief background on other believers like Oprah Winfrey, John Lennon, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Somebody to Love is one to share with anyone who has an interest in music and the power to believe.


Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Tennessee. Valerie has been published in the New York Times, which has hailed her as one of America’s “most intriguing, fully formed new talents.” She has recorded four critically acclaimed, best-selling solo albums and has also written songs for legendary artists such as Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama. Valerie has performed on The Tonight Show, The Late Show, Austin City Limits, Rachael Ray, and CBS Saturday Morning, and graced some of the world’s most prestigious stages, from Carnegie Hall to the Kennedy Center. She’s part of the Turnaround Arts program originally started by First Lady Michelle Obama. Also a poet, her first collection, Maps for the Modern World was published in April 2021 by Andrews McMeel Publishing. When she’s not touring, June splits her time between Tennessee and New York.


Marcela Avelar is a Mexican-born artist based in New York City. She is the founder of a not-for-profit digital art collective called The Artruist. Her work can be seen in advertisements as well as album covers for musicians like Special K’s, Aloysius 3, Pete Remm, So Brown, Wes Hutchinson and 9 time Grammy Award winner Norah Jones. She also designed the stage for Norah Jones’ 2017 Day Breaks World Tour. In 2018, Marcela’s artwork was part of an exhibit in New Paltz, NY celebrating Mexican Women Artists, Artbath, a monthly performance series in NYC and she is working on her next solo exhibit. Currently, she is in collaboration with a Mexico based developer to create unique designs for tiles and textiles.


It’s here I share highlights from other individuals blogging about middle grade books. Many of the posts will have reviews, interviews, and tips on writing. Take a look at PAST MMGM POSTS.

It’s easy to join the lineup. All you have to do is email me the title of the book or feature and a link to your blog at gpcolo[at]gmail[dot]com

Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so it gets sorted accurately–and don’t forget to say what you’re featuring) You MUST email me your link by Sunday evening (11 PM Eastern Time) in order to be included in the list of links for the coming Monday.

*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen reviews ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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2 Responses to SOMEBODY TO LOVE

  1. I’ve never heard of a banjolele before! Thanks for sharing!

  2. First time to hear a banjolele. And, I’ve never heard Valerie before. Great choice. Loved listening to the video as it adds to the review. A lot of books out now that include music. I am sharing a PB next week Friday.

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