A cheerful but uneven celebration of music with simple vocabulary and repeated phrases.

MAYA PLAYS THE PIANO

A young girl takes her first piano lesson in this rhyming picture-book sequel.

Three-year-old Maya walks with her family to piano lessons, where teacher Miss Corrie introduces middle C. Maya is fascinated by the instrument: “Excited! / Maya, really wanted to learn. / She could not wait / Until her turn.” When Maya gets up to the piano, she sees a bumblebee sticker on the middle C. She pushes the key and makes up a song, which she sings and practices at home, entertaining her whole family. The rhymes by the author, who uses the pen name Maya and Jello, scan well, especially when emphasis is added (“en-TRANC-ing”). The frequent refrain of Maya’s song, which has basic, repetitive lyrics, will allow lap readers to chime in and say the words. But the lyrics, which are about not touching middle C, seem to contradict the story, in which Maya plays the note with gusto. Gustyawan’s digital cartoon illustrations feature a wonderfully expressive Maya and expand the cast to include the brown-skinned Miss Corrie and two pale-skinned piano students. (Maya and her family have brown skin and dark curly hair.) Single page images pair with text-only pages featuring a dark background, white text, and a one-color highlight or rainbow music notes.

A cheerful but uneven celebration of music with simple vocabulary and repeated phrases.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 39

Publisher: M&J Literary Works Inc

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single...

HOW TO READ A BOOK

A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet’s debut collaboration.

If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplained…until now. First things are first: “find a tree—a black tupelo or dawn redwood will do—and plant yourself.” Once settled, take the book in hand and “dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out…[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky.” Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander’s poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet’s mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.

New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-230781-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more