________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number . . . .March 17, 2017


Billboard Express. (Orca Limelights).

Sigmund Brouwer & Cindy Morgan.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2016.
118 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1108-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1109-6 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1110-2 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Alicia Cheng.

*** /4



Tommy did listen. He asked her questions about her background, the music she listed to, the books she had read.

“Elle, I can tell you’re smart. Thoughtful. I was impressed by the song you played in the office yesterday – just you and your guitar. It had so much heart. So much emotion. I believe that songs written from an honest and even vulnerable place are the songs that really connect with people. I think you have the ability to write those kinds of songs.”

“You’re young and green, but I see the spark of something very special in you,” he continued. “That is why I have to tell you that these days artists like you, with integrity and depth, they just aren’t selling.”


Billboard Express paints a story of a young singer navigating the delicate complexity of the music industry. Elle is young and has what it takes to become a star and to succeed in the industry – the talent, the looks, and the financial support from her father. The predicament, however, is that Elle’s agent and the label executives want her to change everything, including her music. Elle changes her hair colour, her clothes, even her music. In the process, she struggles to maintain her identity as a person and as a musician. On the one hand, Elle wants to play the music she enjoys, but what does the market want? It is a constant struggle between her music as an art versus her music as a business. Can Elle come up with a way to balance both, or will she lose herself in the process? Will Elle have the courage to stay true to herself, play the music she loves, and live life the way she wants to?

     Billboard Express is a continuation of Sigmund Brouwer’s Rock the Boat. Readers who enjoyed Rock the Boat will be happy to return to Brouwer’s Nashville and go through a different journey with Elle. Billboard Express is a coming-of-age story, and readers will watch Elle grow and discover what is most important to her. Billboard Express, part of the “Orca Limelights” series, is recommended for reluctant readers and young adolescents.


Alicia Cheng is a Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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