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MARVIN MAKES MUSIC

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

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IZZY GIZMO AND THE INVENTION CONVENTION

From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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