Unfolds a world of music for casual as well as serious listeners.

Folded, appropriately enough, accordion style, a panoramic survey of noteworthy music and music makers from bone flutes to Beyoncé.

With an international outlook and an eye for music that incorporates disparate styles and traditions, the authors and Taylor closely fill both sides of a nearly 8-foot-long strip of sturdy stock with hundreds of human figures—broadly diverse in skin color and period or national dress—and musical instruments, all paired to blocks of pithy but lucid commentary. Following an opening world map of prehistoric highlights on every inhabited continent, the contents take a chronological drift with biographical entries running along the top, cultural notes in the middle, and technological advances highlighted at the bottom. Select milestones in opera, orchestral music, and rock-’n’-roll get fair shares of attention (the Beatles even rate an entire page), but so do the histories of Indigenous American, Asian, and African music; son Cubano and Caribbean styles; Australian bush music; and other music linked to particular cultures or regions. Likewise, the nods to lesser-known figures or milestones—composers such as Amy Beach, performers from kunqu opera founder Wei Liangfu to punk ranter Poly Styrene, and tools such as the online music platform Chinabot—can’t help but give young audiences an expansive view of what music is and can be.

Unfolds a world of music for casual as well as serious listeners. (recommended playlist, authors’ notes, glossary, source list, index) (Informational novelty. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9999679-4-9

Page Count: 22

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


In no particular order and using no set criteria for his selections, veteran sportscaster Berman pays tribute to an arbitrary gallery of baseball stars—all familiar names and, except for the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, retired from play for decades. Repeatedly taking the stance that statistics are just numbers but then reeling off batting averages, home-run totals, wins (for pitchers) and other data as evidence of greatness, he offers career highlights in a folksy narrative surrounded by photos, side comments and baseball-card–style notes in side boxes. Readers had best come to this with some prior knowledge, since he casually drops terms like “slugging percentage,” “dead ball era” and “barnstorming” without explanation and also presents a notably superficial picture of baseball’s history—placing the sport’s “first half-century” almost entirely in the 1900s, for instance, and condescendingly noting that Jackie Robinson’s skill led Branch Rickey to decide that he “was worthy of becoming the first black player to play in the majors.” The awesome feats of Ruth, Mantle, the Gibsons Bob and Josh, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and the rest are always worth a recap—but this one’s strictly minor league. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4022-3886-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010



An impeccably researched and told biography of Leonard Bernstein’s musical apprenticeship, from toddlerhood to his conducting debut with the New York Philharmonic at age 25. Rubin traces Lenny’s education, musical influences and enduring friendships. Lenny reveled in mounting elaborate musical productions in Sharon, Mass., his family’s summer community. As a student, he augmented support from his family by giving lessons, accompanying singers, transcribing music and more; the narrative sparkles with details that match its subject’s energy and verve. Especially crystalline are the links drawn between father Sam’s decades-long dismissal of his son’s musical gifts and the consequential importance of mentors and supportive teachers in the young man’s life. In exploring Lenny’s devout Jewish roots and coming of age during the persecution of Jews in Europe, the author reveals how dramatically Bernstein altered the landscape for conductors on the American scene. In an epilogue sketching Bernstein’s later life, she briefly mentions his bisexuality, marriage and children. Drawn from interviews, family memoirs and other print resources, quotations are well-integrated and assiduously attributed. Photos, concert programs, early doodles and letters, excerpts from musical scores and other primary documentation enhance the text. Excellent bookmaking—from type to trim size—complements a remarkable celebration of a uniquely American musical genius. (chronology, biographical sketches, author’s note, discography, bibliography, quotation sources, index) (Biography. 9-12)


Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58089-344-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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