THE REMARKABLE FARKLE MCBRIDE

A welcome debut from an accomplished actor, the remarkable Lithgow. Limerick-like rhyming text recounts the tale of a musical prodigy, Farkle McBride, who from age three, masters, then discards, instrument after instrument in the quest to satisfy his musical passions. Beginning with the violin Lithgow provides unique onomatopoeic tones for the instruments: “He went Reedle-ee, Deedle-ee, Deedle-ee Dee with all the strings at his side.” The trombone: “ He went Vroom-pety, Doom-pety, Doom-pety Doom . . .” and percussion: “ He went Boom, Bash, Clang-a-ma Clash! All the clamor that he could provide.” Yet the older McBride grows, the more dissatisfied he becomes with his accomplishments until finally given the opportunity to conduct, “his happy heart sings, / To brass, drums, winds, and strings, / And remarkable Farkle’s at last SATISFIED.” The story ends with a sweeping, dramatic, four-page panoramic gatefold featuring the proud ten-year-old standing on a symphony hall stage in front of an entire orchestra. Payne’s (True Heart, 1999) humorous mixed-media illustrations feature characters with oversized heads and exaggerated features, changing points-of-view, and a variety of textures. Often the text is set on a background of giant notes and the format itself is as outsized as Farkle’s personality. Encore! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83340-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

JOE LOUIS, MY CHAMPION

One of the watershed moments in African-American history—the defeat of James Braddock at the hands of Joe Louis—is here given an earnest picture-book treatment. Despite his lack of athletic ability, Sammy wants desperately to be a great boxer, like his hero, getting boxing lessons from his friend Ernie in exchange for help with schoolwork. However hard he tries, though, Sammy just can’t box, and his father comforts him, reminding him that he doesn’t need to box: Joe Louis has shown him that he “can be the champion at anything [he] want[s].” The high point of this offering is the big fight itself, everyone crowded around the radio in Mister Jake’s general store, the imagined fight scenes played out in soft-edged sepia frames. The main story, however, is so bent on providing Sammy and the reader with object lessons that all subtlety is lost, as Mister Jake, Sammy’s father, and even Ernie hammer home the message. Both text and oil-on-canvas-paper illustrations go for the obvious angle, making the effort as a whole worthy, but just a little too heavy-handed. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-58430-161-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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