A low-key, atmospheric encounter a-glimmer with verbal and visual grace notes.

MUSIC FOR MISTER MOON

In making amends for a thoughtless act, a shy young cellist finds just the right audience.

So afflicted with performance anxiety that her parents’ mere suggestion that she might play in an orchestra one day makes her flushed and sweaty, Harriet Henry retreats to her room and transforms it into a small, isolated house in which she can practice unheard. But when the teacup she throws through a window to silence an annoying owl knocks the moon down from the sky, Harriet—introducing herself, with a deft bit of gender fluidity, as “Hank”—makes a wagon and responds to the wishes of “Mister Moon” by wheeling him first to the hat maker (a bear) for a warm hat, then down to the lake to listen to water and a distant bell buoy (“There is so much music down below,” he comments. “It is so quiet up in the sky”), then finally back to the sky to play for the moon, who has promised not to cheer or even watch. The illustrations, as spare and harmonious as the prose, are pale constructs of lightly applied pencil over misty ink monoprints featuring a large, gently glowing moon with human features, a comically tiny wagon, and a serious-looking, pigtailed child (white, like her parents) barely if at all taller than her instrument. The ability of Harriet/Hank to remake her surroundings at will not only enhances the episode’s dreamlike quality, but should also strike a chord in retiring or introspective readers.

A low-key, atmospheric encounter a-glimmer with verbal and visual grace notes. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4160-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode.

HORRIBLE HARRY SAYS GOODBYE

From the Horrible Harry series , Vol. 37

A long-running series reaches its closing chapters.

Having, as Kline notes in her warm valedictory acknowledgements, taken 30 years to get through second and third grade, Harry Spooger is overdue to move on—but not just into fourth grade, it turns out, as his family is moving to another town as soon as the school year ends. The news leaves his best friend, narrator “Dougo,” devastated…particularly as Harry doesn’t seem all that fussed about it. With series fans in mind, the author takes Harry through a sort of last-day-of-school farewell tour. From his desk he pulls a burned hot dog and other items that featured in past episodes, says goodbye to Song Lee and other classmates, and even (for the first time ever) leads Doug and readers into his house and memento-strewn room for further reminiscing. Of course, Harry isn’t as blasé about the move as he pretends, and eyes aren’t exactly dry when he departs. But hardly is he out of sight before Doug is meeting Mohammad, a new neighbor from Syria who (along with further diversifying a cast that began as mostly white but has become increasingly multiethnic over the years) will also be starting fourth grade at summer’s end, and planning a written account of his “horrible” buddy’s exploits. Finished illustrations not seen.

A fitting farewell, still funny, acute, and positive in its view of human nature even in its 37th episode. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47963-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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