A solid balance of entertainment and education, with a neat beat.




A musical exploration, in various styles, with a full-page listening guide for each of its 12 tunes.

Composer Gasoi describes the book as her “musical world,” and the variety of musical styles and instrumentation works to bring real diversity to the collection. Each song’s lyrics are presented on a double-page spread backgrounded by Adams’ fanciful paintings of animals and instruments. The bluegrass “Little Blue Car” preps for the trip, with animal travelers loading up the car with their instruments. “Throw a Penny in the Wishing Well” is a doo-wop tune. The sweet “Baby Blue” has a folk flavor. “Goin’ on a Trip” imagines an array of fun journeys, with a light jazz feel. “The Animal Party” bubbles with klezmer craziness. “The Bayou” uses Cajun music influences to describe a festive celebration with great food and dancing. “All Join Hands” is a peppy gospel tune. “Bright Side of Life” presents a get-happy message in a calypso style. There’s also blues, Dixieland swing, and roots music, and the final song, “Purple Man,” consciously mixes styles. Listening guide pages include a tidy explanation of the musical background of each tune as well as questions that make up a clever quiz. On the accompanying CD, Gasoi’s voice is bright and nimble, and her lyrics have an easy feel.

A solid balance of entertainment and education, with a neat beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-2-924217-79-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: The Secret Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A quiet book about making a giant leap.


Lottie knows something no one else knows. Her mother and brother don’t know. Her swimming instructor does not know, and the other children in swim class certainly don’t know.

There is a shark that lives in the pool. It wants to eat Lottie—only Lottie—and Lottie is not going to let it get anywhere near her. Most children have had moments when they’ve sat on the sidelines watching others laugh and play because they were too scared to just dive in, and that is precisely where Lottie finds herself. Lucky for her, Walter shows up just in time. He sings, they read books, play in bubbles, and even share the same favorite food. But when it comes time for Lottie to face her fears, can Walter truly help? Walter, as readers and Lottie see but her family may not, is an enormous walrus. Walker’s soft and appropriately watery illustrations complement and extend her whimsical text, lending a dreamlike feel to the story. Readers will discern the shadowy, predatory shape of the shark below the surface of the water even as Lottie’s classmates splash and play, and they will sympathize, and they will giggle at the depictions of Walter’s huge bulk in Lottie’s tidy urban home while believing that Walter will protect her. Lottie, her mother, and her brother have light-brown skin and black hair.

A quiet book about making a giant leap. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-47038-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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