THE SOUND THAT JAZZ MAKES

A brief history of African American music told in rhyme and dramatically rendered oils. Weatherford tells her story in rhymed couplets, perhaps an unfortunate choice to render so vibrant an art form. The rhymes tend to be clunky: tree / ebony; whines / hard times; rocked / flock; as they move from music sprung from the sounds of nature in Africa—the drum and the kalimba—to slave ships and auctions, and people singing of freedom in the fields. The blues, the cakewalk, gospel and swing take us to Duke and Calloway, and finally to rap and hip-hop. Velasquez’s oils have a flair for the sweeping gesture or crucial moment: a family running to freedom raise their eyes to the night sky for guidance; a grizzled banjo player and a blues man are seen lit from below; paintings of Lady Day, Ella Fitzgerald and other greats are based on well-known photographs. There are numerous picture books for young people that cover this territory with more energy and delight; most notably i see the rhythm (1998). (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8027-8720-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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Blandly laudatory.

I AM WALT DISNEY

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s.

HIGH FIVE

The Dragons Love Tacos (2012) crew invites readers to the 75th Annual High Five Tournament.

It’s not going to be a walkover, as opponents in the five rounds range from Gigantic the Bear (“700 Pounds of Hair”) and, after her, dizzying bouncer Kangaroo Paul to the ultimate challenger, eight-limbed Octopus Jones. Fortunately, young contenders have a yetilike ex-champ in their corner to offer vigorous if unevenly rhymed and metered commentary (“Was that your new signature slap? / My grandma fives better than that!”) as well as savvy advice on hand positioning and style points. Accentuated by block letters in diverse hues and the occasional outsized “HIGH FIVE!” Salmieri’s scribbly ink-and–colored-pencil drawings of the all-animal cast, audience, and panel of judges reflect the infectiously rising suspense and wild excitement as the unseen “Kid” the narrator addresses sends each foe in succession reeling away in stunned defeat. Just one thing left to do: “Hold up your trophy / and shout out ‘woo-hoo!’ / The new high five champ is you!” Along with the verbal coaching, a chart of variations on “The Classic,” such as “The Windmill,” “The Double Behind the Back Slam,” and even “The High Foot,” offers further challenges to ambitious fivers of all genders. As characters frequently address “Kid” directly and hold up dramatically foreshortened hands or paws to viewers, caregivers should be ready for this book to take a beating.

A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-42889-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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