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Undeniably a lesson, it is delivered with a sense of fun; a helpful author's note describes each instrument.

When all the bands in the kingdom sound horrible, the king takes drastic action.

Individually, each musician isn't awful, but when they play together, it's excruciating. Even the royal musicians produce an unbearable sound. The king issues a proclamation: "NO MUSIC." A little piper named Piffaro decides to leave and absconds with an old dray horse, which he calls Charlemagne. On the road, they nearly collide with a mandolin player named Espresso, the fastest musician in the kingdom. He hitches a ride; later, their sensitive ears pick up the soft strains of a harp. On the side of the road sits Serena the Silent; she and her harp hop on Piffaro's wagon as well. The trio becomes a quartet when it encounters Fortissimo, a sackbut player recently voted the loudest musician in Bombardy. They're nearly away when an elderly slowpoke blocks their progress. His name is Lugubrio, plays the contrabass and increases the wagon's load to five. All play as they ride, but they are oblivious to the others. It takes wise Charlemagne to pull them up short, and get them to work together. The result is harmony. And who should ride by and hear this newly melodious band but the king? This nifty riff is greatly enhanced by Manders' bright gouache-and–colored-pencil illustrations, which give each player a distinct personality, and onomatopoeic instrument sounds that literally filled the air.

Undeniably a lesson, it is delivered with a sense of fun; a helpful author's note describes each instrument. (Picture book. 3-6) 

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-32820-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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