Music is all around. One need only listen.

READ REVIEW

THE MUSIC OF LIFE

A composer hits all the wrong notes until he hears music from unexpected sources.

Lenny lives with his cat, Pipo, in Paris. Uninspired while trying to write a symphony, he stares dejectedly at his empty page when…Pipo laps at his water bowl and—why not?—Lenny writes these sounds down. A dripping faucet and tweeting birds supply additional “notes.” Then more present themselves: a bicycle bell, metal shutters against a shop’s door, a barking dog. Lenny acknowledges these certainly feel musical, so they belong in his composition, too. A buzzing bee convinces Lenny to venture into the park, and oh, what musical magic emerges from the multitude of sounds on offer: “The symphony of life!” Lenny happily returns home, his formerly blank page now “full of ideas.” His symphony is actually transcribed on a page of sheet music, and savvy readers who wish to do so may try playing it. The simple plot isn’t original, but it is lively and stimulating, inviting listeners to join in. Youngsters will remain engaged and enjoy mimicking the onomatopoeic sounds for the assorted noisemakers throughout; these are rendered in italicized, larger type. The loose, cartoon illustrations are expressive and child appealing. Lenny is white; other characters are diverse.

Music is all around. One need only listen. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-30315-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising...

FLASHLIGHT

A wordless picture book both soothing and gently humorous.

The cover displays the template that will appear throughout: black pages with stylized, silvery, moonlit flora and fauna, except where the flashlight’s glow shows the colors of objects as they appear in full-spectrum light. That triangular beam will reveal such things as a beaver in a pond, bats in the sky, mice munching on apples and a set of colorful Tibetan prayer flags suspended between two woodland trees. Although rendered in gouache, the art resembles a scratch painting, with myriad tiny plants and animals inscribed into the black background, starting with captivating endpapers. On the title page, an androgynous child in a tent lies propped on elbows, reading a book by flashlight. Because there is no text, the sets of double-page spreads that follow initially leave room for interpretation as to whether one child or two are next seen happily perusing the night woods, flashlight in hand. No matter; the important elements are the amazing details in the art, the funny twist at the end and the ability of the author-illustrator to create a dark night world utterly devoid of threat.

Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising moon over the course of one night in the forest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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