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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Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves.

THE THREE NINJA PIGS

"Dedication and practice pay off," is the message these three pigs painlessly deliver.

“Once upon a dangerous time,” a wolf plagued a town with his huffing and puffing, so three pigs—two hogs and a sow—attend Ninja School to learn how to face him. Each studies a different martial art, but the two brothers quickly lose interest; the third pig alone earns all her belts. So when the wolf comes calling, it’s no surprise when the brothers’ skills are not equal to the task. “The chase carried on to their sister’s. / Pig Three was outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’ ” A demonstration of her prowess is enough to send the wolf packing and the brothers back to their training. Schwartz’s sophomore outing is a standout among fractured fairy tales, masterfully combining rollicking limerick verse with a solid story, neither a slave to the other. The one quibble is the “Ninja” of the title—these pigs study the martial arts of aikido, jujitsu and karate. Santat’s illustrations are done with Sumi brush on rice paper and finished in Photoshop. The colors, patterns and themes nicely incorporate those of Japanese art, and the setting, with its background mountains, cherry blossoms and traditional rooftops, is firmly Japanese.

Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves. (glossary) (Fractured fairy tale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25514-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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