This poetic celebration of Muddy Waters’ musical truth is lifted still higher by Turk’s extraordinary art.



Mahin traces Muddy Waters’ path from his Mississippi Delta roots to legendary status as a Chicago blues giant.

McKinley Morganfield, raised by Grandma Della, is nicknamed Muddy for the Mississippi mud he plays in. Even more than church music, he loves the stuff “they didn’t play on Sundays”—Delta blues. Muddy soaks up such influences as slide guitarist Son House and plays what instruments he finds or makes. A fieldworker by day, he buys a guitar and plays juke joints at night. Mahin dramatizes Waters’ departure for Chicago as a last-straw disagreement with a field boss and uses a refrain—“But Muddy was never good at doing what he was told”—at seminal junctions. Waters responds to Chicago’s jazz-infused blues scene not by rejecting Delta blues, but by literally amplifying it: “Muddy plugged in, turned on, turned up, and out came the sound of the Delta, buzzing and mad like an angry hornet’s nest.” Turk’s breathtaking pictures fuse historical newspaper clippings, paint, printer’s ink, oil pastels, and china marker. His symbolic palette shifts from sun-seared, white-gold cotton, red earth, and undulating river-blue to Chicago’s urbane, neon-lit green, blue, and black. (Muddy retains his Delta-born, underpainted red contours throughout.) Motifs like the purple of Della’s dress repeat dynamically. A note on the copyright page states that both lyrics and dialogue are invented.

This poetic celebration of Muddy Waters’ musical truth is lifted still higher by Turk’s extraordinary art. (author’s note, suggested books and recordings) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4349-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)


From the Stink series , Vol. 8

Stink Moody, younger brother of Judy, hops into the spotlight with a common problem—and  one that’s a bit more unusual.

Stink would like to advance in his swimming lessons, but he’s afraid to put his face underwater and seems doomed to remain a Polliwog forever. Fortunately, he’s distracted from that issue by the sudden appearance around town—in some surprising places—of a whole lot of real frogs, a few of which are deformed. These frogs give McDonald the opportunity to offer a little information, through the voice of a nature-center guide, on how adverse environmental conditions can influence frog development. Stink memorizes a variety of frog sounds, enabling him to participate in a frog count at a local pond. Somehow, he becomes convinced that he’s turning into a frog himself, but that might just make it possible for him to swim underwater. Brief, cheery, oversized text and lot of cartoonish black-and-white illustrations (only some of which were available for review) make this a good choice for newly independent readers. A minor issue is that the text informs readers that it is early spring; even in Virginia, that’s a little early for Stink to be taking swimming lessons in an outdoor pool, as indicated in the illustrations.

Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6140-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Die-hard Beatles fans may enjoy it, but it’s likely to leave others cold.


Contemplate life and loss in this illustrated adaptation of the Beatles’ hit.

As the book opens, a female-presenting protagonist with brown skin and puffy dark hair is gifted a pink bicycle. She practices riding with a taller, also female-presenting friend, sibling, or caregiver with straight black hair and pale skin. As the duo treks around their seaside home, subtle hints suggest the passage of time. Hats are replaced by beachwear and then scarves; training wheels disappear, and the bike is replaced with a more grown-up model, this time in blue. As the lyrics reference the friends and lovers, of whom “some are dead, and some are living,” the older character is seen fading and then disappears altogether, suggesting the protagonist now has only the memory of a lost companion. The protagonist ages and has a young daughter, and the cycle continues—but readers who surmised that the older companion had died will be puzzled to see what seems to be the same character, seemingly alive but now with graying hair, emerge to welcome the protagonist and daughter. The color palette is inviting, but the characters are illustrated with large black dots for eyes—an unsettling choice reminiscent of the Other Mother from Neal Gaiman’s Coraline (2002) that may well create an emotional disconnect. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Die-hard Beatles fans may enjoy it, but it’s likely to leave others cold. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6585-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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