BIG TUNE

RISE OF THE DANCEHALL PRINCE

An exuberant celebration of community that leaps off the page.

A young Black boy finds a way to keep the music and joy alive in his Caribbean American community.

In Shane’s neighborhood, the weekend is a time for music and partying with family and friends. While everyone else dances, he collects cans with plans to turn them into money for his sneaker fund. Shane’s brothers think he’s too shy to dance, but Shane dances and sings when he’s alone in his room. After all, other family members are so much better. As he gets closer to his goal, he is excited and has all the moves. Unfortunately, when the next time for a gathering comes, the music speaker no longer works. Shane immediately decides to sacrifice his savings to ensure that the good times will continue. He is a hero to family and friends, and the revelers show their appreciation by passing the hat to replace his money. Finally, Shane overcomes his shyness and takes to the floor to sing and to dance with his loved ones. This lively, vibrant narrative has an infectious spirit, and Shane is irresistible. Grounded in a tightknit Jamaican American community, the story deftly incorporates visual and textual references to dance styles, food, and other cultural touchstones. The lush collages reinforce the text. Themes of joy, solidarity, and artistic expression are effortlessly woven throughout the words and images. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An exuberant celebration of community that leaps off the page. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780374389949

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

LOUD MOUSE

A muddled message shoots for the moon but never quite gets all the way off the ground.

A little mouse experiences BIG changes thanks to a spectacular talent.

Dee’s a singer to her core. She croons absolutely everywhere, so when her teacher Miss Pink suggests that her students bring in something that symbolizes what they enjoy doing, Dee brings in a song. As she sings it, however, her joy causes her to physically grow huge! At first this makes her feel special, but as the day goes on she feels lonely and out of place. Shrinking back to her normal size, she worries that this means she can never sing again. But thanks to the encouragement of her mother and little sister, she realizes that being special is nothing to be ashamed of. However, though her classmates have skills of their own, only Dee changes, indicating that some talents are more transformative than others. After all, while everyone is enthralled by Dee, Ren the turtle’s talent for drawing a replica of a space station is something he “made everyone watch.” The true standout in this show comes from Sinquett’s dynamic art, capable of encompassing the emotional highs and lows of elementary school kids. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A muddled message shoots for the moon but never quite gets all the way off the ground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-368-07806-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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