Sitting on his stoop near the end of a tidy block of row houses, Max seizes on a couple of sticks that blow from a tree and begins tapping: on his own thighs; on the bottom of Grandpa's window-washing bucket; on a hatbox his mother brings home, bottles, a garbage can. Unobtrusively, Pinkney slips in new information about Max's family in each spread, as the boy experiments creatively with what's at hand, imitates rhythms he hears (""the sound of pigeons, startled into flight,"" church bells, the wheels of the train where his father's a conductor). In a satisfying conclusion, the drummer in a passing band tosses Max his extra drumsticks. Pinkney's scratchboard illustrations, designed with a sure hand and overlaid with rich, subtle shades of sky blue, leaf green, and brick applied in free, painterly strokes, are superb; they vividly convey the imagination and vitality of this budding young musician. A perfect marriage of idea and art.