His A Chorus Line was “One singular sensation.” This is not.

An episode from the childhood of the late mega–award-winning composer of Broadway and film.

New York City–born and –raised, Hamlisch was a child prodigy who was accepted into the Juilliard School at a very young age and who went on to win multiples of all the major performance awards—Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Add a Pulitzer Prize for the 1975 Broadway hit, A Chorus Line. In this extremely sweet (one might say saccharine) story, written in the third person, the young Marvin loves listening to sounds and playing his own melodies. Practice he hates. Performing for others he hates. Playing ancient music by Mozart and Beethoven he hates. Now, his parents have arranged for him to audition for the prestigious school and have bought him a brand-new, very itchy suit. Arriving too early, his father takes him up to the roof, and they get locked out. Nonetheless, Marvin plays, well, sensationally. He takes note of his father’s admonition that practice and learning are required before one can compose music that “would be magic.” Madsen’s colorful paintings are suitably amusing but not necessarily evocative of mid-20th-century Manhattan. This is more anecdotal than inspirational or motivational and will be of greatest appeal to nostalgic grandparents. (Accompanying CD not heard.)

His A Chorus Line was “One singular sensation.” This is not. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3730-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012


Sentimental but effective.

A book aimed at easing separation anxiety and reinforcing bonds.

Twins Liza and Jeremy awaken during a thunderstorm and go to their mother for comfort. She reassures them that they’re safe and says, “You know we’re always together, no matter what,” when they object to returning to bed. She then explains that when she was a child her mother told her about the titular “Invisible String,” encouraging them to envision it as a link between them no matter what. “People who love each other are always connected by a very special String made of love,” she tells them, reinforcing this idea as they proceed to imagine various scenarios, fantastic and otherwise, that might cause them to be separated in body. She also affirms that this string can “reach all the way to Uncle Brian in heaven” and that it doesn’t go away if she’s angry with them or when they have conflicts. As they go to bed, reassured, the children, who present white, imagine their friends and diverse people around the world connected with invisible strings, promoting a vision of global unity and empathy. While the writing often feels labored and needlessly repetitive, Lew-Vriethoff’s playful cartoon art enhances and lightens the message-driven text, which was originally published in 2000 with illustrations by Geoff Stevenson.

Sentimental but effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-48623-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018


A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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