Music and the Arts Book Reviews

THE MONSTER RETURNS by Peter McCarty
FANTASY
Released: Jan. 31, 2012

"It might lack the mild menace of its predecessor, but it satisfies in its supply of companionship all around. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Jeremy hatches a plan to cope with his monster's unexpected return. Read full book review >
EVERYBODY GETS THE BLUES by Leslie Staub
FICTION
Released: Jan. 9, 2012

"Hip and stylized—yet, given its important humanitarian message, curiously enervated. (Picture book. 4-8)"
Staub, a native of New Orleans, cloaks a worthy message in obscure metaphor. Read full book review >

THE REALLY AWFUL MUSICIANS by John Manders
ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 20, 2011

"Undeniably a lesson, it is delivered with a sense of fun; a helpful author's note describes each instrument. (Picture book. 3-6) "
When all the bands in the kingdom sound horrible, the king takes drastic action. Read full book review >
WHEN COMES WHAT DARKLY THIEVES by Ben Rubin
FICTION
Released: Dec. 7, 2011

"An unusual, artfully rendered story that will appeal to children as well as adults."
A dark, dreamy tale illustrated with rich, textured collages. Read full book review >
MELODY BURNING by Whitley Strieber
FICTION
Released: Dec. 6, 2011

"Too many sour notes in this melody. (Fiction. 12 & up)"
A ham-handed contemporary Phantom of the Opera that features a teen pop sensation and an agoraphobic boy by the adult author of The Wolfen (1978). Read full book review >

THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE by Jackie Morris
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Dec. 1, 2011

"A beguiling and surprising addition to the nursery-rhyme shelf. (Picture book/nursery rhymes. 3-7)"
Forty familiar and not-so-familiar nursery rhymes are illustrated with gorgeous and evocative images. Read full book review >
BLOWIN' IN THE WIND by Jon J Muth
MUSIC AND THE ARTS
Released: Dec. 1, 2011

"Big questions, posed with majestic simplicity—and packaged with a CD of the original track. (artist's afterword). (Picture book. 8-10, adult)"
Dylan's lyrics succeed here better than many other songs that find their way to picture books. Read full book review >
CIRCUS GALACTICUS by Deva Fagan
FICTION
Released: Nov. 14, 2011

"A book that reaches for the stars and provides a thrilling ride. (Science fiction. 12 & up)"
A plucky orphan runs away to join an intergalactic circus in this frenetic science-fiction/adventure tale. Read full book review >
THE TWILIGHT CIRCUS by Di Toft
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Definitely a continuation rather than a freestanding episode, but the author keeps her ongoing plot galloping along and adds an assortment of marvelous new creatures to the cast. (Fantasy.10-13) "
An old foe sets a deadly trap for two young werewolves in a sequel framed by family reunions and positively festooned with hideous vampires. Read full book review >
DUKE ELLINGTON'S <i>NUTCRACKER SUITE</i> by Anna Harwell Celenza
FICTION
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Still, real cool. (author's note) (Picture book. 6-9) "
Drawing from letters, memoirs, photos, film and recordings, Celenza presents a spry account of the 1960 composition and recording of a decidedly swinging Nutcracker Suite. Read full book review >
MY TWO GRANDADS by Floella Benjamin
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"Cheery, brightly colored, cartoon-style illustrations reiterate the text, which, while a touch didactic, laudably expands on the typically monocultural depictions of families in picture books. (Picture book. 3-6)"
Benjamin and Chamberlain's picture book is squarely focused on family diversity as it tells the story of a biracial boy and his musical family in a companion to their earlier collaboration, My Two Grannies (2008). Read full book review >
HUSH, BABY, HUSH! by Kathy Henderson
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: Nov. 1, 2011

"This attractive presentation is appropriate as a baby gift, for daycare and preschool collections and public libraries. (sheet music) (Picture book. birth-5)"
Addressed primarily to adults interested in singing these traditional songs to their children, this collection includes 29 lullabies from countries including Japan, Nigeria, Malawi and Greenland. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >