While the logical concerns don’t sink this ship, muffed details have it awash at the scuppers.

READ REVIEW

HARBOR BOUND

A father-and-child team venture out together on their tugboat, rescuing a small boat and navigating a storm before returning safely to their harbor.

Evocative watercolor illustrations effectively convey the ocean and harbor setting with azure skies, puffy clouds, swirling seas, and a rip-roaring thunderstorm with lightning streaking across purplish skies. While the intriguing illustrations are the book’s strongest feature, several illustrations do not have exact picture-to-text correlation. Some perplexing depictions that could disorient coastal readers include an ocean liner on a direct path for collision with a sailboat and the tugboat (as well as the nearby shore) and a jet shown in the hangar bay of an aircraft carrier, which would not likely be anywhere near this small harbor. Safety-conscious readers will be concerned by the lack of clearly depicted personal flotation devices on the child and father. The child (who is androgynous) is shown wearing a slim vest, but it isn’t clearly a life jacket. Sharp-eyed readers will note that the line that’s towing the dinghy the tug rescues disappears in some pictures, as does the dinghy’s occupant. The cast of characters includes people of color; the child’s father has light skin and dark hair, and the mother presents as Asian. The short, rhyming text conveys a dramatic and interesting story, but in the pictures, too many extraneous types of boats make unnecessary and illogical appearances. Nautical terms used in the story are defined in a glossary.

While the logical concerns don’t sink this ship, muffed details have it awash at the scuppers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4847-9952-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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Swans abound and good defeats evil in a simplified retelling.

SWAN LAKE

From the Story Orchestra series

A look-and-listen (albeit briefly) adaptation of a favorite ballet story.

A diverse cast of dancers fills the pages of this very basic retelling of a Russian classic of the ballet repertoire. The spread-spanning illustrations are busily filled with lakeside swans sporting fancy, feathery costumes along with many trees, deer, foxes, and rabbits. The palace is pink and glittery and replete with chandeliers, curtains, and fancily costumed guests. There, Odile, malevolent-looking daughter of the evil sorcerer Rothbart, dances with Prince Siegfried and tricks him into believing that she is the lovely Odette, the enchanted swan, who looks bereft. The audience-pleasing national dances of Act 3 are not mentioned in the text nor depicted in the illustrations. Stagings of Swan Lake have always had various endings, some happy and some not so, as Prince Siegfried and his beloved Odette are united only in the afterlife. This version has them living happily ever after on Earth. The gimmick of this title is the 10 brief (10 seconds or so) sound clips that barely hint at the very beautiful score. Adults taking children to a performance may find this useful as an introduction, but listening to a suite of the music would be a better idea. The refreshingly inclusive casting—Siegfried, Odette, and Odile have brown skin, and there are many courtiers of color—does not mitigate the book’s flaws.

Swans abound and good defeats evil in a simplified retelling. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book/novelty. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4150-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Raindrops are delightful and danceable musical melodies.

SINGING IN THE RAIN

Movie happiness is now picture-book joy.

The title song from the classic 1952 movie musical is a song-and-dance salute to joie de vivre—as is this book version. It opens with a cheerful double-page spread of a brown-skinned child in perfectly matched yellow rain gear perched on a lamppost as musical notes in the same cheerful yellow stand out against a blue rain-splattered background. Homage to Gene Kelly? Of course! On the following pages, children in equally colorful rainy-day outfits join in the fun as they dance and march along. They watch from the observation deck of the Empire State Building as clouds fill the sky and the same bright yellow notes appear. Close-ups of the smiling, multiracial cast follow as they watch flowers grow or a reflection in a puddle and then happily splash away to other landscapes filled with tropical birds and lush green foliage. Sing the lyrics or recite the words “based on the song” and have a really good time. Hopgood’s digitally rendered collages of watercolor, pencil, and ink add depth, texture, and buoyant spirit to the package.

Raindrops are delightful and danceable musical melodies. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-12770-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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