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From the Aven Green series , Vol. 3

Realistic, affirming, and uplifting.

Irrepressible Aven Green returns to tackle a new challenge: playing a musical instrument.

When her teacher Ms. Luna announces a talent show, Aven has no trouble listing her many skills: She’s already a keen detective and a strong baker. But what she really wants is to be a professional musician. After all, not having arms doesn’t mean she can’t play an instrument. And surely, a week is more than enough time to master some Mozart! But finding an instrument she can handle—or rather “feetle”—is tougher than it seems. The violin is out of the question, and her toes don’t stretch enough to play chords on the piano. Her best friend hurts her feelings by dubbing her piano-playing “bad noises,” and hearing about her classmates’ talents (which range from artistic to humorously revolting) makes her feel like giving up. But with support from Ms. Luna, her parents, and her great-grandmother, Aven learns that all that matters is doing her best. As Aven’s appealing self-confidence alternates with frustration, Bowling simultaneously acknowledges setbacks and reassures readers that discouraging feelings don’t last forever. Adults’ matter-of-fact acceptance of Aven’s musical ambition is refreshing, and the resolution to her instrumental dilemma is heartwarming. Straightforward dialogue explores such concepts as patience, persistence, and tact. Perry’s spirited black-and-white cartoon illustrations vividly express Aven’s sadness, determination, and joy. Aven and her family present White, Ms. Luna is depicted as brown-skinned, and Aven’s classmates are racially diverse.

Realistic, affirming, and uplifting. (glossary) (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4222-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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From the J.D. the Kid Barber series , Vol. 2

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D.

Breakout kid barber J.D. embraces a summer of opportunity.

Readers met J.D. Jones just as he took his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi, by storm, winning himself community acclaim and a chair at the revered Hart and Sons barbershop in series opener J.D. and the Great Barber Battle(2021). What’s next for the haircut prodigy? School’s just getting out, and there’s so much life happening outside—if only one can escape home learning with the grandparents. J.D.’s sister, Vanessa, brings along multitalented mutual friend Jessyka to share an ambitious challenge: “Let’s start a YouTube channel!” Can they get millions of views and wow the whole world? They are already amazing at haircuts and hairstyles—all they need is to learn how to make a great YouTube video. The story models strategies for scripting short videos reflecting the templates of viral YouTube hair tutorials, inviting readers to not only see the journey of the characters, but maybe also practice these skills at home. This book is bound to educate all about some of the most storied and cherished traditions within the Black community. Bringing in Vanessa is a great touch to extend the series across gender, and hopefully she’ll get a chance to lead her own adventures. This book blends skill-building, entrepreneurship, and strong family values to give young Black children visions of what’s possible when they follow their passions and embrace their community.

A strong second outing for Dillard and J.D. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11155-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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