THE FAREWELL SYMPHONY

The life of a musician has never been easy. When Prince Nicholas takes 22 musicians on an extended visit to his summer palace to provide non-stop music for his guests, he refuses the request of his royal music director, Joseph Haydn, to allow the musician's families to visit. Dejected after many weeks of separation, Haydn writes a composition called "The Farewell Symphony" (Symphony No. 45) to express the musicians' longing for home and family and their contempt for being treated so callously. To ensure that his message will be driven home, Haydn writes an ending in which the musicians are to abruptly leave one by one, until the stage is devoid of life. The author's note describes Haydn's work in the court of Prince Nicholas, utilizing interesting information from archival documents. Written by a classical musician, the personal details of Haydn's life and thoughts surrounding the creation of this piece are solidly grounded in music history and an understanding of this profession. A CD recording of Haydn's symphony is included; performed by the orchestra of St. Luke's, it should bring to life these visual images. The type of instruments used during the 18th century are nicely explained and pictured. Kitchel's watercolor and ink illustrations capture Haydn's dilemma and the Prince's reluctant change of heart most eloquently. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-57091-406-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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.

GOING PLACES

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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