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From the Made by Hand series

A decent choice for music classrooms, but its focus on a white American musician makes it a bust for another seemingly...

A chronicle of the history and production of steel drums.

Steel drumming began on Trinidad. Its African roots are made clear: West Africans forced into chattel slavery brought their drumming traditions with them to the island, but oppressive white slaveholders outlawed drumming. Even post-slavery the drumming ban continued, so the people adapted by using found materials such as biscuit tins and paint cans. During World War II, the U.S. built a base on Trinidad, and drummers used the 55-gallon oil containers to make drums. Ellie Mannette, an ingenious black Trini who would come to be known as the “Father of the Modern Steel Drum,” was one of the first to do this. The focus here shifts to Glenn Rowsey, a white U.S. steel drummer and steel-drum maker. Readers follow Rowsey through the fascinating process of creating a steel drum, which makes up the bulk of the book. The choice to highlight a white musician/craftsperson comes off as culturally tone deaf given the African/African diasporic roots of the art. Easy-to-understand text and plentiful full-color photos make this book accessible even for younger readers. Books on steel drumming are scarce, so it’s particularly disappointing that this book, while offering a good historical base, places white voices and experiences at its center.

A decent choice for music classrooms, but its focus on a white American musician makes it a bust for another seemingly natural application in units on Caribbean culture. (DIY instrument instructions, timeline, glossary, resources) (Nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7898-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe.

An introduction to gravity.

The book opens with the most iconic demonstration of gravity, an apple falling. Throughout, Herz tackles both huge concepts—how gravity compresses atoms to form stars and how black holes pull all kinds of matter toward them—and more concrete ones: how gravity allows you to jump up and then come back down to the ground. Gravity narrates in spare yet lyrical verse, explaining how it creates planets and compresses atoms and comparing itself to a hug. “My embrace is tight enough that you don’t float like a balloon, but loose enough that you can run and leap and play.” Gravity personifies itself at times: “I am stubborn—the bigger things are, the harder I pull.” Beautiful illustrations depict swirling planets and black holes alongside racially diverse children playing, running, and jumping, all thanks to gravity. Thorough backmatter discusses how Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity and explains Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. While at times Herz’s explanations may be a bit too technical for some readers, burgeoning scientists will be drawn in.

An in-depth and visually pleasing look at one of the most fundamental forces in the universe. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 2024

ISBN: 9781668936849

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2024

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