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. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Blandly laudatory.


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 Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet...


A Jewish immigrant from Russia gives America some of its most iconic and beloved songs.

When Israel Baline was just 5 years old, his family fled pogroms in the Russian Empire and landed in New York City’s Lower East Side community. In the 1890s the neighborhood was filled with the sights, smells, and, most of all, sounds of a very crowded but vibrant community of poor Europeans who sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York’s harbor to make a new life. Israel, who later became Irving Berlin, was eager to capture those sounds in music. He had no formal musical training but succeeded grandly by melding the rich cantorial music of his father with the spirit of America. Churnin’s text focuses on Berlin’s early years and how his mother’s words were an inspiration for “God Bless America.” She does not actually refer to Berlin as Jewish until her author’s note. Sanchez’s digital illustrations busily fill the mostly dark-hued pages with angular faces and the recurring motif of a very long swirling red scarf, worn by Berlin throughout. Librarians should note that the CIP information and the timeline are on pages pasted to the inside covers.

A book to share that celebrates an immigrant and his abiding love for his adopted country, its holidays, and his “home sweet home.” (author’s note, timeline) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-939547-44-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet