PLAYING AT THE BORDER

A STORY OF YO-YO MA

Hopeful and lovely.

Yo-Yo Ma performed Bach’s cello suites at the U.S.–Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, in 2019.

Through poetic and reverent language, Ho uses this performance as a keyhole to introduce readers to Ma’s impressive career, with a focus on how he “challenges convention and weaves worlds together” through music. Extensive backmatter gives informative context for such global initiatives, such as the Silk Road Ensemble, which has brought together strangers from different cultures to play music, and the Bach Project, which the titular concert was part of. Ho extends the theme of global unity when she describes Petunia, his beloved cello, which embodies materials from Italy, Brazil, Mongolia, India, and West Africa. Martinez’s gentle illustrations match Ho’s inspired tone with sweeping, soft strokes in welcoming, warm tones. A visual throughline of music notes appears on almost every page, conveying the magic that music, even while unseen, can be felt by all. The wraparound cover illustration and final double-page spread both depict lines of adults and children of various ages and racial presentations holding hands across the border, beautifully underscoring the book’s theme of unity through music. Elementary school teachers and parents of school-age children searching for examples of people connecting across borders and differences will delight in this sweet introduction—an excellent companion to Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios’ Between Us and Abuela (2019). (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hopeful and lovely. (resources, author’s note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-299454-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

HUMMINGBIRD

A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

THE LITTLE BOOK OF JOY

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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