De la Peña wonderfully expresses the impact of music on the soul, and Ramírez’s bright, expressive watercolor illustrations...

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COCO

MIGUEL AND THE GRAND HARMONY

Miguel loves music and wants to be a musician more than anything, but his family prohibits him from pursuing his greatest love.

La Música, who narrates in the first person, appears at the strum of a guitar, in wedding bells, in a static-y radio, in the strains of a single violin, whirling through town, joining musicians through the plaza, rising and rising, until Miguel’s abuelita storms out of a shop and demands the musicians stop. “You’ll upset Mamá Coco!” They fumble and stumble away. La Música notices a young boy staring at the guitars in the hands of the musicians, longing for music just as she disappears. Each time she appears again, she looks for the boy and finds him, secretly watching musicians on a hidden TV in his play area, “playing” his broom, but just as she’s about to whisper her name in his ear, his family pulls him away. La Música arranges a careful series of events to help Miguel indulge in music, and the surprise ending lingers in the air like an overheard harmony. Readers don’t learn exactly why Miguel’s family has forbidden music, and though this would be puzzling in a stand-alone book, this book is a side story about the characters in Disney Pixar’s Coco. The tenderness and emotional intelligence of this story serves as a great incentive to learn more about Miguel.

De la Peña wonderfully expresses the impact of music on the soul, and Ramírez’s bright, expressive watercolor illustrations underscore the poetic prose style perfectly. ¡Que viva La Música! (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8149-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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