LANG LANG

PLAYING WITH FLYING KEYS

This Chinese-born pianist enjoys a worldwide career as a soloist, with performances so exciting and dramatic that staid concertgoers stand up and cheer. He literally owes his fame and achievements to his musician father, who pushed, cajoled, schemed, screamed, threw his toys out the window and otherwise dominated Lang Lang’s childhood while leaving his mother as the family breadwinner. The Chinese music world of the 1980s and ’90s stressed technical proficiency through competitions; Lang Lang excelled. It was only while studying in Philadelphia that he learned about musicianship. A last-minute substitution for a scheduled performer brought him fame and a career. American readers will be struck by the harshness of his childhood, the petty jealousies of his teachers and his maniacal daily practice schedule. It’s a fascinating and engrossing portrait of a different life—and not just for those considering a career in music: It’s also food for thought for soccer moms and dads. The author includes a listing of his favorite things and favorite Western composers. Adapted from Lang Lang’s autobiography for adults. (Memoir. 12 & up)

Pub Date: July 8, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-73578-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers.

RAW TALENT

From the Orca Limelights series

Paisley McFarland is a freshman in high school who loves to sing but has horrible stage fright in this entry in a performing-arts themed series for reluctant readers.

When a local farm announces a talent show fundraiser, Paisley signs up to sing, but will she be able to pull it off? Like many young people, Paisley is also fighting her mother’s expectations of what she “should” be doing—in her case, singing classical choir pieces rather than pop music. Her best friend, Jasmeer Sharma-Smith, believes in her and convinces the famous actress and singer Maxine Gaston to coach Paisley and help with her performance anxiety. Her private lessons help give her the confidence to go onstage at the upcoming event, but Paisley also has to deal with bullying from Cadence Wang, another student singer. Much like in real life, the negative behavior is not neatly resolved. Paisley is implied white; diversity is indicated through characters’ names. In Offbeat by Megan Clendenan, Rose Callaghan is a Celtic fiddle player who hopes to win a folk festival competition in order to prove to her lawyer mother how serious she is about music she loves rather than the classical music her mother wants her to play. Things go awry when her special violin, left to her by her deceased father, breaks—will she still be able to perform well? The book follows a white default.

Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1834-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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