Ready the backpacks—this is sure to inspire many a family.

YES, LET'S

Tag along on a family’s hiking trip as they enjoy (mostly) the great outdoors and (almost always) each other.

Longstreth and Wicks have created an Everyfamily that most readers will be able to identify with, even if they have never been on a family hike. The language helps: Every sentence, save the final one, starts with "Let's," bringing readers into the adventure. Early one morning, four children tiptoe in to wake their parents (and dog) for a day of hiking through the woods to the river. As in reality, not everything goes perfectly; what matters are the interactions, and there are plenty as the family members enjoy swimming, playing games, building boats and dams, exploring, having lunch and pursuing their own interests. While the rhymes don’t always work (“cards” with “far”), Wicks’ illustrations are standouts. She captures the family’s every thought and feeling, from the teenage girl’s defiance over exchanging her pink flats for hiking boots to the mother’s horror at her youngest son’s hands at lunchtime. (The oddly applied noses may distract some, though.) The kids are nicely individuated: The oldest boy has his ever-present yo-yo, the youngest one is always losing or dropping something. But best of all are the small details. Not only are there endpaper checklists of animals, hiking gear and groceries to find, but very observant readers will notice a whole other subplot going on in the illustrations.

Ready the backpacks—this is sure to inspire many a family. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-933718-87-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE

Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great.

Picking up the trombone at 7, the little girl teaches herself to play with the support of her Grandpa John and Momma Lucille, performing on the radio at 8 and touring as a pro at just 17. Both text and illustrations make it clear that it’s not all easy for Melba; “The Best Service for WHITES ONLY” reads a sign in a hotel window as the narrative describes a bigotry-plagued tour in the South with Billie Holiday. But joy carries the day, and the story ends on a high note, with Melba “dazzling audiences and making headlines” around the world. Russell-Brown’s debut text has an innate musicality, mixing judicious use of onomatopoeia with often sonorous prose. Morrison’s sinuous, exaggerated lines are the perfect match for Melba’s story; she puts her entire body into her playing, the exaggerated arch of her back and thrust of her shoulders mirroring the curves of her instrument. In one thrilling spread, the evening gown–clad instrumentalist stands over the male musicians, her slide crossing the gutter while the back bow disappears off the page to the left. An impressive discography complements a two-page afterword and a thorough bibliography.

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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