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An engaging, kid-oriented look at a legendary composer and his work.

Young Melody Mouse and her family share a wall with the noisy classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven in Chow’s debut illustrated children’s story.

Mr. Beethoven is banging loudly on a piano in the next room, and Daddy Mouse complains his family never gets any peace and quiet. Mr. Beethoven can play angrily, sadly, and joyfully. Moonlight Sonata and Für Elise are some of Melody’s favorite piano pieces. One day, Mr. Beethoven doesn’t respond to a knock on the door; the composer soon explains to his visitor that he can’t hear him, and Melody realizes Mr. Beethoven is deaf. The next day, Melody tiptoes across the room and climbs the piano, where she sees Symphony Number 9 and then falls from the piano into a coat pocket. Mr. Beethoven wears the coat, with Melody inside it, onstage to conduct his symphony. Melody loves the music from the clarinets, strings, trumpets, timpani, and singers: “Wrapped up in the swirl of the music, Melody’s heart filled with hope and joy.” Illustrator Reyes shares a dramatic, wordless two-page spread of Mr. Beethoven and every orchestra member and singer. As an introduction to Beethoven and his work, this is a useful book; Melody Mouse’s adventures, with their full-color cartoon-style images, will likely be more engaging to a small child than a more straightforward Beethoven biography would be. However, some real-life details, such as that Beethoven composed on the floor on legless pianos, don’t appear here; instead, he sits on a bench at a more conventional piano. It also would have been interesting to see more of Vienna, where all the characters live.

An engaging, kid-oriented look at a legendary composer and his work.

Pub Date: Oct. 7, 2022

ISBN: 9781525596773

Page Count: 36

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

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Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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