Realistic, affirming, and uplifting.


From the Aven Green series , Vol. 3

Irrepressible Aven Green returns to tackle a new challenge: playing a musical instrument.

When her teacher Ms. Luna announces a talent show, Aven has no trouble listing her many skills: She’s already a keen detective and a strong baker. But what she really wants is to be a professional musician. After all, not having arms doesn’t mean she can’t play an instrument. And surely, a week is more than enough time to master some Mozart! But finding an instrument she can handle—or rather “feetle”—is tougher than it seems. The violin is out of the question, and her toes don’t stretch enough to play chords on the piano. Her best friend hurts her feelings by dubbing her piano-playing “bad noises,” and hearing about her classmates’ talents (which range from artistic to humorously revolting) makes her feel like giving up. But with support from Ms. Luna, her parents, and her great-grandmother, Aven learns that all that matters is doing her best. As Aven’s appealing self-confidence alternates with frustration, Bowling simultaneously acknowledges setbacks and reassures readers that discouraging feelings don’t last forever. Adults’ matter-of-fact acceptance of Aven’s musical ambition is refreshing, and the resolution to her instrumental dilemma is heartwarming. Straightforward dialogue explores such concepts as patience, persistence, and tact. Perry’s spirited black-and-white cartoon illustrations vividly express Aven’s sadness, determination, and joy. Aven and her family present White, Ms. Luna is depicted as brown-skinned, and Aven’s classmates are racially diverse.

Realistic, affirming, and uplifting. (glossary) (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4549-4222-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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


From the Rafi and Rosi series

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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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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