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MUSIC TIME

From the Confetti Kids series

An earnest and conscientious effort to add diversity to new readers’ choices.

Set in the diverse urban neighborhood introduced by Paula Yoo and Ng-Benitez in Lily’s New Home and Want to Play (both 2016), this newest entry focuses on Henry, a would-be rock-star drummer.

Henry’s mother needs quiet to work, so Henry takes a single drum to the front stoop. An intentionally diverse cast of characters stop playing jump rope to freeze dance. Henry is white. Lily is dark-skinned with curly hair. Mei’s, Padma’s, and Pablo’s names suggest ethnically diverse backgrounds; all have light-brown skin and dark hair, and Pablo wears glasses. Repeating the same few words guarantees success for new readers. Uncluttered layout and a sans-serif typeface also help, while digitally enhanced watercolor illustrations provide context clues. Each of the three brief chapters can stand on its own, though they also form a cohesive if simple story arc when read in one sitting. Henry seems unrealistically willing to adjust his behavior so as to not disturb his mother; his mother is all too happy to break into dance when her work is complete. In the simultaneously publishing Block Party, Padma is embarrassed when her mother brings Indian lentil soup to the neighborhood festivities. But her friends seem to like it, so Padma decides she can be proud of the soup and of her heritage. Each book closes with an “extra”: instructions to make a homemade drum in Music Time, and a recipe for lentil curry soup in Block Party.

An earnest and conscientious effort to add diversity to new readers’ choices. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62014-343-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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CLAYMATES

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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