A heartwarming story about the magic of music, intergenerational relationships, and believing.

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MR. MERGLER, BEETHOVEN, AND ME

A young Chinese girl and an elderly white man develop a bond through a shared love of music.

Moving to a new neighborhood or city is tough enough. Moving to a new country where you don’t speak the language is even more daunting. Not long after the narrator arrives in Montreal from China, she meets Mr. Mergler at a nearby park. When he asks her to sing her favorite song for him, he recognizes her aptitude for music and offers to give her piano lessons. Under Mr. Mergler’s patient tutelage, the narrator quickly learns to decipher the notes on the page into music. “My fingers began to fly, and so did my lessons.” Mr. Mergler isn’t the only one keeping track of her progress. The narrator imagines that Beethoven, or rather a bust of the famous composer, shows his approval (or lack thereof) from his perch atop Mr. Mergler’s piano. Barely six months later, the elderly piano teacher is too weak to teach anymore. Upon his death, he leaves his “star pupil” a poignant letter and a precious gift. Cinq-Mars’ delicate sketches, hand-drawn in color pencil, frame Gutnick’s quiet text with charm and whimsy. The affection between the narrator and her teacher, as well as within her family, is palpable. An author’s note reveals that Mr. Mergler was a real, longtime piano teacher in Montreal and provides a biographical sketch of Beethoven.

A heartwarming story about the magic of music, intergenerational relationships, and believing. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77260-059-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Cool beans indeed.

THE COOL BEAN

A supposed “has-bean” shows that coolness has more to do with deeds than demeanor.

Offering further moral instruction in this leguminous cousin to The Bad Seed (2017) and The Good Egg (2019), Oswald portrays three beans—each a different species but all sporting boss shades, fly threads, and that requisite air of nonchalance—bringing the cool to streets, hallways, playgrounds, and Leguma Beach. Meanwhile, a fourth (a scraggly-haired chickpea), whose efforts to echo the look and the ’tude have fallen flat, takes on the role of nerdy narrator to recall “olden days” when they all hung out in the same pod. Still, despite rolling separate ways (nobody’s fault: “That’s just how it is sometimes. You spend less time together, even though you’re not totally sure why”), when the uncool bean drops a lunch tray, skins a kid knee on the playground, or just needs a hint in class, one of the others is always on the scene toot suite. No biggie. And passing those casual acts of kindness forward? “Now that’s cool.” John’s good-hearted text makes some hay with the bean puns while Oswald’s pipe-stemmed limbs, googly eyes, and accessories give these anthropomorphic legumes lots of personality. As a fava to young audiences, pair with Jamie Michalak and Frank Kolar’s Frank and Bean (2019) for a musical combination.

Cool beans indeed. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-295452-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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