Slight and frustratingly incomplete.



From the Little Stories of Great Composers series

Minim, a mouse who loves both cheese and music, encounters the Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi.

In 19th-century Venice, Minim has a narrow escape in Vivaldi’s music school, where he has been sent to exchange a coin for a child’s baby tooth. Even without knowing that in Italy the tooth fairy employs a small mouse, young U.S. readers will be charmed. The night of this story is dark and cold, and Minim (the British term for a half-note) has more errands to do, but this mouse does love music. Lingering to read the child’s thank-you note imperils him when he is noticed by the cat. But fortunately, when the orchestra suddenly strikes up, the cat is more interested in the music than the mouse. Lafrance’s drawings accentuate the gray of the night and the institution and the small size of the mouse compared to its surroundings. (He is depicted with near-human proportions on the cover but is considerably smaller in interior illustrations.) All humans are shown as White. An accompanying CD includes the story, ably narrated by Colm Feore, and, curiously, only two of the three movements of Vivaldi’s “Winter,” from The Four Seasons. The backmatter includes the entire text of the winter sonnet and reveals that Vivaldi was choirmaster and concertmaster at a girls orphanage. He composed much of his music for his pupils and the orchestra of that institution (though not the selections accompanying this title). This is the third in a music-appreciation series which includes visits to Mozart and Tchaikovsky as well.

Slight and frustratingly incomplete. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-2-924774-84-7

Page Count: 36

Publisher: The Secret Mountain

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.


Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.


Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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