Just as he did with the wonderful Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (1995), Moss makes child’s play out of sophisticated verse that will keep young ears rapt. Here, it’s a marching band that slowly gets assembled, as he identifies each aspiring musician and accompanying instrument: “One house away, Shavaun O’Shea, / In mapping out her life, / Had planned to blow a piccolo / (Which some folks call a fife).” As Ralph and Harry and Maureen get familiar with their trombones and sousaphones and glockenspiels, the neighborhood gets a taste of cacophony: “ ‘That sound annoys! It near destroys! / They bellow and complain. / ‘Confound that noise! / Those girls and boys are driving us insane.’ ” But the learning curve is not too cruel and soon the band is good enough to impress the mayor, who invites them to the July 4th parade, where they do the town proud. “You sound so good. / When starting out, we had no doubt, / We always knew you would.” Moss conveys not just the joy of music making, but, more subtly, the need to practice hard to get it right. Bluthenthal’s (Bertie’s Picture Day, not reviewed, etc.) cartoon art matches the verve of Moss’s words, and provides for as much cultural variety in the players as there are instruments. Goggle-eyed kids, in various shapes and sizes, strut their stuff across pages of all-American landscape to the delight of their equally goofy parents. And just so you notice, the mayor is an African-American woman. Hip hip hooray! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23335-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.


Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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