Appealing and informative—a perfect harmony.

Conductor Simon auditions musicians, introduces their instruments, and builds an ensemble modeled on the London Symphony Orchestra.

This well-organized introduction to the symphony orchestra features clear explanations, lively illustrations of players and their instruments, and examples of the sounds of particular instruments from LSO performances (available for download via a QR code). There are also two full pieces, Ravel’s “Boléro” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6. The story arc introduces the conductor, a White man with graying hair who loves music and wants to share it. To do that, he must build an orchestra, section by section, instrumental family by instrumental family. Each spread includes several short paragraphs of narrative, some infobits marked with a hashtag/sharp symbol, and a short description of what to listen for in the audio example, all accompanied by cheery images that are both realistic and imaginative. These include allusions to the musical selections—a faun, a firebird, a sugar-plum fairy, and so forth. Readers who enjoy poring over illustrations can follow particular characters throughout. Both auditioners and performers are racially diverse, and some are clearly modeled on current LSO personnel. After auditions, there are rehearsals and, finally, a performance. (Here, the vignettes include an appreciative audience.) The backmatter offers a pictogram of the orchestra with its standard seating and further information about the particular musical selections. LSO conductor Sir Simon Rattle provides an introduction, and LSO educator Rachel Leach gets title page credit for “musical support."

Appealing and informative—a perfect harmony. (glossary, index) (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-871-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020


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


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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