A swinging invitation to get into the groove.

A slide through the foundational instruments and elements of jazz, with push-button sound clips.

Three cats (of the feline sort) get hep (“This music makes me wanna dance in my seat!” “That’s because it’s got a great groove.” “It sure does. Wait! What’s a groove?”) as they take in a jazz combo on a club stage and then follow the music out onto the street. Sloan (Welcome to the Symphony, 2015) fills in the bass line with historical notes, covering the development of jazz as “an African American art form” from early days in New Orleans’ Congo Square to the arrival of Louis Armstrong, and explaining important terms such as “improvisation” and “scat singing.” Prompts in the narrative lead readers to a dozen short clips taken from an original recording of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Buttons that trigger the clips are lined up to the side and produce isolated flurries from select instruments, a snatch of clarinet solo, a bit of voiced scat, and a few seconds of the main theme as an effervescent instrumental and also with call-and-response lyrics. A portrait gallery in one cartoon illustration that gives nods to five early jazz greats (all, like the fictive modern band on stage, African American) is backed up at the end with a limited but at least somewhat more expansive playlist of classic tracks for further listening, though caregivers who want to introduce kids to bebop and other later styles are on their own.

A swinging invitation to get into the groove. (glossary) (Informational novelty. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5235-0688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019


Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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