A solid exploration of a resonant musical partnership at a historically significant moment in American music.

READ REVIEW

BENNY GOODMAN AND TEDDY WILSON

TAKING THE STAGE AS THE FIRST BLACK-AND-WHITE JAZZ BAND IN HISTORY

This married author-illustrator team (Light in the Darkness, 2013, etc.) here highlights the innovative, barrier-breaking collaboration of African-American Wilson and Jewish-American Goodman.

Cline-Ransome’s staccato verse narrative articulates the musicians’ parallel paths to their eventual collaboration. She contrasts their backgrounds, describing dedicated musical training, early jazz influences and stints in various bands. (Wilson, the son of Tuskegee educators, studied music theory in college in Alabama, while Goodman got free synagogue music lessons and gigged around Chicago, quitting school at 14.) The two are introduced in Queens, N.Y., in 1935 and click during an impromptu jam. Benny forms a trio with Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa, overcoming—in April 1936 in Chicago—an initial reluctance to appear with Wilson, making them the first interracial band to perform in public. That same year, vibraphonist Lionel Hampton joins up, making it a quartet. Ransome’s watercolors utilize a palette rich in twilight-blue, indigo and yellow, punctuated with sienna, red and green. In lively double-page spreads, he captures the band’s dedication to practicing and recording together, as well as the verve and excitement of their live shows. Two pages of background notes include more about the musicians, a timeline of jazz events and a brief “Who’s Who” of some of jazz’s giants.

A solid exploration of a resonant musical partnership at a historically significant moment in American music. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2362-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless.

THE WORLD NEEDS MORE PURPLE PEOPLE

A monohued tally of positive character traits.

Purple is a “magic color,” affirm the authors (both actors, though Hart’s name recognition is nowhere near the level of Bell’s), and “purple people” are the sort who ask questions, laugh wholeheartedly, work hard, freely voice feelings and opinions, help those who might “lose” their own voices in the face of unkindness, and, in sum, can “JUST BE (the real) YOU.” Unlike the obsessive protagonist of Victoria Kann’s Pinkalicious franchise, being a purple person has “nothing to do with what you look like”—a point that Wiseman underscores with scenes of exuberantly posed cartoon figures (including versions of the authors) in casual North American attire but sporting a wide range of ages, skin hues, and body types. A crowded playground at the close (no social distancing here) displays all this wholesome behavior in action. Plenty of purple highlights, plus a plethora of broad smiles and wide-open mouths, crank up the visual energy—and if the earnest overall tone doesn’t snag the attention of young audiences, a grossly literal view of the young narrator and a grandparent “snot-out-our-nose laughing” should do the trick. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

The buoyant uplift seems a bit pre-packaged but spot-on nonetheless. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12196-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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