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Tantalizing glimpses of a composer who challenged the very definition of music.

The story of a composer and performer who didn’t just push musical envelopes…he shredded them.

Rogers presents the bad boy of 20th-century art music as an inveterate experimenter who was, from childhood on, hyperaware of the ambient urban sounds all around him and dedicated himself to finding new ways to make and use them. In this he might sound a lot like Charles Ives in Mordecai Gerstein’s What Charlie Heard (2002), but Cage ventured much further than Ives into weirdness—by tucking random junk into piano strings, for instance. Whether accidentally setting himself on fire, as he did once (commenting “Isn’t that marvelous?”), writing music that resulted in alienated audiences walking out midway through a performance, or offering a piece consisting entirely of over four and a half minutes of silence, he “was serious,” the author argues, “about asking people to accept new ideas, recognize music in everyday life, and be still enough to hear sounds in silence.” Na incorporates a self-developed vocabulary of dots, squiggles, and slashing lines, assembled in a labeled glossary at the end, into evocatively vivid and jumbled scenes of city streets, explosions of color creeping into drably hued rooms, and images of concert halls filled with racially diverse, stunned-looking audiences and musicians. Young readers may not be attracted to Cage’s music but will come away with a strong sense of his liberating open-mindedness. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Tantalizing glimpses of a composer who challenged the very definition of music. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, quotation sources, selected sources) (Picture-book biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780593646625

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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