Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony.

READ REVIEW

MAESTRO MOUSE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BATON

When Maestro Mouse loses his baton, a group of young concertgoers conduct a search through all the sections of the orchestra.

The Barneses, whose mice have previously explored U.S. history and the workings of our federal government, now turn their attention to Washington, D.C., culture, setting this new story in a slightly altered Kennedy Center. (The exterior is Carnegie Hall in New York City; the inside a clear representation of the Center’s Concert Hall and vast corridors, though the bust of Kennedy has been replaced by one of Beethoven.) This well-meant introduction to a symphony orchestra is hampered by awkward language and unskilled illustrations. The lost-and-found story is written in rhyming fourteeners—a verse pattern that requires unnaturally lengthy lines and is difficult to write smoothly or read aloud comfortably. The conductor’s facial features differ from page to page, his shirt buttons occasionally change orientation, and, on one page, he’s lost his boutonniere. Section by section, mouse children, differentiated by their clothing, scurry through the orchestra seeking the baton. Usually the illustrations follow the text, but the larger stringed instruments don’t appear until three spreads after their mention in verse. Scott Hennesy and Joe Lanzisero play the same premise more skillfully in The Cat’s Baton Is Gone (2012).

Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony. (notes for parents and teachers, matching game, facts, a page for a written response) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-036-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones.

BOA CONSTRUCTOR

From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of the Binder of Doom series, readers will reconnect with Alexander Bopp, who leads the Super Secret Monster Patrol, a group of mutant children who protect the citizens of their beloved town of Stermont.

His friends Nikki and Rip rejoin him to add new monsters and adventures to their ever growing binder of monsters. As in series opener Brute-Cake (2019), Alexander and his friends attend the local library’s summer program, this time for “maker-camp.” They are assigned a Maker Challenge, in which each camper is to “make a machine that performs a helpful task”; meanwhile, mechanical equipment is being stolen all over Stermont. Unfortunately, the pacing and focus of the book hop all over the place. The titular boa constructor (a two-headed maker-minded snake and the culprit behind the thefts) is but one of many monsters introduced here, appearing more than two-thirds of the way through the story—just after the Machine Share-Time concludes the maker-camp plotline. (Rip’s “most dangerous” invention does come in handy at the climax.) The grayscale illustrations add visuals that will keep early readers engaged despite the erratic storyline; they depict Alexander with dark skin and puffy hair and Nikki and Rip with light skin. Monster trading cards are interleaved with the story.

Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones. (Paranormal adventure. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31469-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to...

THE BOOK OF GOLD

A lifelong quest slowly transforms a stolidly incurious Brooklyn lad into an educated, well-traveled geezer.

A dedicated nonreader, young Isaac Gutenberg turns up his nose at the tantalizing facts his book-loving parents dangle before him until a mysterious little old lady tells him about a legendary volume that not only contains the answers to every question ever asked, but when opened “turns to solid gold.” As years pass and Isaac eagerly riffles through every book he finds, his unalloyed greed changes to curiosity: “Why don’t the pyramids have windows?” “Who invented pizza?” “How did the number eight get its name?” After scouring the world’s book shelves, he ultimately comes to realize that the search itself has given him “a long life filled with wonder.” Bronze-toned, retro-style views of New York, India, and other locales are bookended between 1935 and present-day visits to idealized but recognizable versions of the New York Public Library’s Main Reading Room. There (in an act that would in real life get him ejected if not arrested), old Isaac sidles up to an unattended young patron to pass on the glittering legend. Isaac and most of the other figures are white, but Staake diversifies the skin tones of street crowds and readers in the overseas and later scenes.

More sentimental even than Staake’s earlier My Pet Book (2014), but the shiny metaphor is well-intentioned and the nod to libraries is well-taken. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-51077-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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