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SOREN'S SEVENTH SONG

An approachable explanation of tenacity, friendship, and hope.

Soren is determined to revamp the song of his fellow humpback whales.

Finding the music of the older male whales “outrageously boring,” Soren opts for something catchy, with sounds reminiscent of maracas. Eager to share his new music, Soren performs for his friends, and Hans offers his opinion: That was the worst song ever. After many more revisions (seven iterations altogether), Soren lands on one that becomes a hit under the sea. Eggers tackles important themes—the challenges of the creative process, which entails unavoidable laboring, and the necessity of trustworthy friends willing to give honest feedback. Thanks to Soren’s dogged persistence and Eggers’ tongue-in-cheek humor, these complex concepts become accessible for young readers. Hoffmann’s illustrations depict the widely smiling whales with expressive faces and accessories, like Hans’ red deerstalker hat. The sea creatures have personality, and the underwater world is filled with movement and energy. It helps that Soren is a likable character, but the repeated back-and-forth of the seven versions of the song starts to get tedious, making the book a lengthy read. That said, inspiration finally strikes when Soren learns to look outside his cave at the beauty around him—a lovely point well made. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An approachable explanation of tenacity, friendship, and hope. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781951836733

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Cameron Kids

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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ACOUSTIC ROOSTER AND HIS BARNYARD BAND

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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