16 year old white boys from New York's east 70's don't gain an easy admittance to the jazz country of Negro band leaders like Moses Godfrey. Tom Curtis was tolerated at first because he was earnest about playing the trumpet and could take everything Godfrey and his musicians handed out. Tom gradually found himself "inside" with growing respect for the arrogant, honest Godfrey; Tom had begun to learn what jazz, and maybe life, was all about. "You've got to find your own 'thing,'" they told him. "You've got to tell your own story." The author, a well known jazz critic, writes of Tom in the first person. He manages to sustain the tone of a young boy's viewpoint in the vivid idiom of Negro jive talk, coherently used. He incorporates some lessons in jazz appreciation and captures a sense of the abrasive realities of being black in New York. Some of the other characters too often sound like mouthpieces for a crusade rather than people; the intensity and bitterness of the race situation have been caught without the harsh laughter that usually accompanies it as a safety valve. Tom himself is never phony and Godfrey, though idealized, is a complex and memorable man. Here is a book with something important to say about the sacrifices demanded of the artist in a way that makes a strong appeal to boys — and that's a rare combination.

Pub Date: April 21, 1965

ISBN: 0060223065

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1965

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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