A joyful reminder that perseverance pays off, especially when you let out the artist within.

READ REVIEW

THE DANCE OF THE VIOLIN

The early life of renowned violinist Joshua Bell is portrayed in a lively fashion.

It’s apparent that the violin is the perfect instrument for the small white boy, as his first tentative attempts at familiar tunes turn into a joyful immersion in the music. Colorful mixed-media illustrations dance and swirl across the pages as Joshua envisions stories emanating from the music he plays. At the age of 12, Joshua enters a tough competition for a chance to perform with an orchestra, choosing one of the most difficult pieces for a violinist to master. Apprehension turns into personal triumph as he soldiers on after a major mistake in his performance. Petricic’s light touch, fluid lines, and watercolors are reminiscent of Quentin Blake’s work, and they bring to life the exuberance with which Joshua approaches his art. Expansive double-page spreads, plenty of white space, and unusual perspectives give just the right amount of room for Stinson’s descriptive text, which captures a range of emotions, from music that “tickled every hair on Joshua’s head” to notes that “hung limp in the air like wet laundry on a clothesline.” The final page of the book provides the basis for the story in question-and-answer format.

A joyful reminder that perseverance pays off, especially when you let out the artist within. (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55451-900-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s.

HIGH FIVE

The Dragons Love Tacos (2012) crew invites readers to the 75th Annual High Five Tournament.

It’s not going to be a walkover, as opponents in the five rounds range from Gigantic the Bear (“700 Pounds of Hair”) and, after her, dizzying bouncer Kangaroo Paul to the ultimate challenger, eight-limbed Octopus Jones. Fortunately, young contenders have a yetilike ex-champ in their corner to offer vigorous if unevenly rhymed and metered commentary (“Was that your new signature slap? / My grandma fives better than that!”) as well as savvy advice on hand positioning and style points. Accentuated by block letters in diverse hues and the occasional outsized “HIGH FIVE!” Salmieri’s scribbly ink-and–colored-pencil drawings of the all-animal cast, audience, and panel of judges reflect the infectiously rising suspense and wild excitement as the unseen “Kid” the narrator addresses sends each foe in succession reeling away in stunned defeat. Just one thing left to do: “Hold up your trophy / and shout out ‘woo-hoo!’ / The new high five champ is you!” Along with the verbal coaching, a chart of variations on “The Classic,” such as “The Windmill,” “The Double Behind the Back Slam,” and even “The High Foot,” offers further challenges to ambitious fivers of all genders. As characters frequently address “Kid” directly and hold up dramatically foreshortened hands or paws to viewers, caregivers should be ready for this book to take a beating.

A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-42889-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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