An inviting version of a Canadian song that will resonate—and reverberate.

Clap your hands and dance along to a traditional Newfoundland folk melody.

Newfoundlanders, along with diverse creatures, happily join their hands, hoofs, fins, and feathers for a traditional and much-loved folk song/dance. After the boy, or b’y, catches fish, he brings them home to Liza as a guitar-strumming player and an accordionist are joined on stage by two more musicians—a fish and a moose. The villagers, human and animal, form circles and dance to the lively beat. All then enjoy a hearty meal as the catch is laid out to preserve and dry. A cheerful refrain accompanies the dancers, who now form a big circle as puffins frolic in the air and on the rocks. The setting then moves to the shoreline, and twilight brings a joyful conclusion to the day’s festivities. A note from the illustrator provides an explanation for the local customs and word usage. The colorful, utterly exuberant illustrations—digitally created, though they have a smudgy, hand-painted feel—are an enticing introduction to the music, which can be found on YouTube for those curious. Swirling text complements the upbeat lyrics that celebrate the Canadian island. The locals vary in skin tone; the titular b’y is brown-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An inviting version of a Canadian song that will resonate—and reverberate. (musical notation) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77164-833-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greystone Kids

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022


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


The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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