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Part storybook, part pep talk to anyone with a dream in reach.

Introductory text shares history and context for the fourth publication of this circus story, with a theme of staying true and pursuing what feels right.

The title reveals itself promptly as Petronius the clown defiantly declares “No!” when asked to perform by the ringmaster. Five circus animals follow suit, and the group bluntly quits. After discussing their grievances around a campfire, they realize it isn’t so much the circus they dislike as their lack of autonomy. Even though this existential realization might stir up deeper questions in adults, it’s presented as a straightforward plot point and could help children express their own interests or desires for change in daily life. Each scene methodically moves the six “circus rebels” toward their goal of opening their own circus “for children and poets.” Classically inspired illustrations from Kuhlmann depict a rich red drape behind the circus stage. Petronius is a quintessential clown, with a collar, red nose, powder-white face, and pointed hat. Even though this is a fresh set of illustrations for the 1961 story, the cars and fashion stem from the time of initial publication. There is no noticeable skin tone or body type diversity when people are present. Anyone fearful of clowns or critical of the circus at large will pass on this book. Those who turn the pages will find a sweet mix of action and reflection as they cheer on the earnest gaggle of performers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Part storybook, part pep talk to anyone with a dream in reach. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4476-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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Amusing but a little off tempo.

It’s important to hit all the right notes.

A tan-skinned musical composer with puffy black hair is busy at work on his next musical masterpiece when Half Note, a music symbol denoting two beats, feels unappreciated. Half Note is jealous of the more commonly used Quarter Note (one beat) and Eighth Note. Although the other musical symbols attempt to calm and comfort Half Note, she decides to run away. The next day, Composer needs Half Note and panics when he realizes that she’s gone. The other notes and musical symbols try to find her, but it’s only when they try to play her favorite song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” without her—with terrible results—that she comes running back. The story’s humor—which is largely based on “dad joke” puns—is completely dependent on readers’ musical knowledge. The artwork, a mix of acrylic and colored pencil, attempts to add some allegrezza to the piece, and while it’s not unsuccessful, it’s facing an uphill battle. Music teachers and musically minded caregivers may find some value in this story, but it will likely be too specialized for general readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Amusing but a little off tempo. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64567-631-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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From the Lucy Tries Sports series

It’s a slam dunk

Lucy discovers that the way to learn to play basketball is with friends on a neighborhood court.

Lucy loves playing in the park, and one day she and her friends join their friend Ava and her cousin in their new favorite sport: basketball. Pro player Jermaine, aka “Coach J,” teaches all the basics—footwork, quick passes, dribbling, and a variety of shots. But he also encourages the players to keep trying when they miss, stresses the value of teamwork, and focuses on fun as they learn and later play a practice game. At the end of the workout, Coach J invites the young players to watch him and his team play. Written in loose rhyming couplets, the text has many near rhymes and inconsistent meter. While the storyline is predictable, the book is a good introduction to basketball terms, and young basketball players and fans will appreciate reading about themselves. Vivid silhouetted figures against a white background portray male and female players of several races; Lucy herself is white while Ava and Coach J are black. One young player competes from a wheelchair. A half page of backmatter explains the history of basketball, the NBA and its players, and wheelchair basketball, and one entry also explains the three-on-three basketball that the children play. The book publishes in a simultaneous French edition translated by Rachel Martinez.

It’s a slam dunk . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1697-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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