An ebullient, wonderfully told introduction to music that had an indelible influence on a generation and its times.

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RHYTHM RIDE

A ROAD TRIP THROUGH THE MOTOWN SOUND

Adopting the informal, laid-back voice of a narrator she calls “the Groove,” Pinkney offers readers a lively, engaging chronicle of the Motown sound.

Central to the story is the visionary impresario and Motown founder Berry Gordy. Although successful as a songwriter, the Detroit native was unhappy with the pittance earned for his labor while record company owners made a fortune. With $800 borrowed from his family, Gordy started Motown Records at a two-story bungalow he dubbed Hitsville USA. The ambitious Gordy drew on his experience working for Ford Motor Co. to turn Motown into an assembly line cranking out hit after hit. Gordy’s “Motown family” soon included such stellar acts as Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Martha and the Vandellas, Stevie Wonder, the Jackson Five, and more. Pinkney interweaves into the narrative accounts of the cultural and political upheavals occurring during the years of Motown’s greatest success, such as the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and the deadly riots in Detroit. She explains how Gordy’s success in an industry dominated by white men at the time was all the more remarkable. Given this, it’s unfortunate she doesn’t take the opportunity to discuss how influential the Motown sound was on white musicians, particularly those of the British Invasion.

An ebullient, wonderfully told introduction to music that had an indelible influence on a generation and its times. (photos, timeline, discography, source notes, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59643-973-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing.

THE AMAZING BOOK IS NOT ON FIRE

THE WORLD OF DAN AND PHIL

A couple more YouTube stars write a book.

Howell, who goes by "danisnotonfire," and "AmazingPhil" Lester are the latest YouTube stars hoping to cross over to the world of books. Instead of crafting a memoir or adapting their videos into a fictional series, the duo have filled these 225 pages with bold graphics, scatological humor, and quirky how tos that may entice their fan base but will leave everyone else out in the cold. It contains a wide variety of nonsense, ranging from Phil's chat logs to information on breeding hamsters. There's an emoji-only interview and some Dan/Phil fanfiction (by Howell rather than a fan) and even a full double-page spread of the pair's unsuccessful selfies. All this miscellany is shoveled in without much rhyme or reason following introductory pages that clearly introduce the pair as children, leaving readers who aren't in on the joke completely out of the loop. The authors make no attempt to bring in those on the outside, but in all honesty, why should they? The only people buying this book are kids who already love everything Dan and Phil do or clueless relatives in desperate search of a gift for the awkward teens in their lives. The book's biggest fault is its apparent laziness. It feels like something slapped together over a weekend, with no heart or soul.   

A loud, cynical cash grab—far from amazing. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-93984-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2015

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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