Why has no one ever before set the Bremen Town Musicians down where they could really resonate—the American South? Well, no matter, because first-time children’s author Price has imaginatively and rhythmically done that in an auspicious debut. Price is a storyteller and early-music specialist who really bends a few notes in this well-loved story, weaving a fun-filled retelling that brays, howls, and crows to be read aloud. To recap: When mule is told by farmer his days are done, he runs off in the footsteps of his ma to “canter up Bourbon Street, under jazz evenings soft as yellow silk.” That kind of siren song, to play trumpet like Louis Armstrong in New Orleans, carries him along to enlist hound, cock, and cat, all of whom are at the end of their luck, into a real, sho-nuff bebop and jazz a cappella band! Ultimately, the hungry quartet sing for their supper, unwittingly scaring off and clearing the house of some well-heeled jewel thieves. Being their own best admirers, they never do get to Bourbon Street, but spend their days at their well-provisioned crawfish shack, “howling down the moon to dance on a song and a dare.” Though a few Southernisms in the story are inconsistent with Louisiana-isms, and a bayou is not a swamp, these are forgivable in the exuberant spirit of language play. Illustrator Glass (Mountain Men, 2001, etc.) known for his books on the American frontier, crosses the river with his loose, colorful style to harmonize perfectly with this completely satisfying, must-have rendition of the age-old tale. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: April 22, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-04076-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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