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Engagingly links the jazz saxophone with its European roots.

This collaboration spotlights the saxophone’s European birth and wide adoption by American jazz musicians.

Adolphe Sax, a 19th-century Belgian instrument maker’s son, both plays and invents instruments. Searching for a new sound—softer than a trumpet, louder than a clarinet—Adolphe tinkers and reassembles until his masterpiece is ready. Belgium’s arbiters reject the new instrument, and Adolphe moves to Paris. While French tastemakers initially pan it, the composer Hector Berlioz champions “le saxophon,” opining, “It cries, sighs, and dreams.” After hard-won integration into French military bands, other European nations adopt it, too. Napoleon III loses France’s war in Mexico accompanied by the instrument’s wails. Florencio Ramos, a musician in a Mexican cavalry band, obtains a sax and settles in New Orleans in 1884. The signature sound of the rechristened “saxophone” spreads there and beyond, inseparable from jazz’s early permutations. (Cline-Ransome avers that after Sidney Bechet picks up the sax, he forsakes his clarinet.) A final spread summarizes jazz’s singular predisposition to musical contagion: “Coleman Hawkins heard Sidney play. / And Lester Young heard Coleman play. / And Charlie Parker heard Lester play.” While the anecdotal narrative adroitly portrays Sax’s perseverance as an innovator, the segue to American jazz gets shorter shrift. Cline-Ransome admirably amends this: Endpapers, a jacket poster, and spot illustrations celebrate over 20 diverse saxophone greats. Rich, sepia-toned spreads showcase the saxophone’s shining complexity.

Engagingly links the jazz saxophone with its European roots. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3702-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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From the Find Momo series , Vol. 7

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute.

Readers bid farewell to a beloved canine character.

Momo is—or was—an adorable and very photogenic border collie owned by author Knapp. The many readers who loved him in the previous half-dozen books are in for a shock with this one. “Momo had died” is the stark reality—and there are no photographs of him here. Instead, Momo has been replaced by a flat cartoonish pastiche with strange, staring round white eyes, inserted into some of Knapp’s photography (which remains appealing, insofar as it can be discerned under the mixed media). Previous books contained few or no words. Unfortunately, virtuosity behind a lens does not guarantee mastery of verse. The art here is accompanied by words that sometimes rhyme but never find a workable or predictable rhythm (“We’d fetch and we’d catch, / we’d run and we’d jump. Every day we found new / games to play”). It’s a pity, because the subject—a pet’s death—is an important one to address with children. Of course, Momo isn’t gone; he can still be found “everywhere” in memories. But alas, he can be found here only in the crude depictions of the darling dog so well known from the earlier books.

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781683693864

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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