Delightful whether or not you’ve ever attempted to play a stringed instrument.

READ REVIEW

VALENTINE AND HIS VIOLIN

Valentine's violin teacher says he's doing very well, but the effect of his playing on others is dramatic in a different sense.

Dutch illustrator Hopman, known for his collaborations (Tom the Tamer, written by Tjibbe Veldkamp, 2011),  proves he can solo as well in this entertaining riff on the sounds of a beginning violinist, published here in lively, colloquial translation. In the text, the small boy tries out various well-known pieces such as Ode to Joy, Water Music and Marche Militaire. The pictures show the result: People scatter; horses leap; a constipated wolf produces an enormous poop; a dragon flees; an army retreats. Hopman’s engaging paintings are set with a narrow white border on double-page spreads. Loose-lined pen-and-ink drawings with pastel watercolor wash include intriguing details. There’s a high-ceilinged music studio full of art, a walled city with canals reminiscent of Venice and a castle besieged by an army that uses both elephants and Viking boats. This medieval fairy-tale world adds to the absurdity of the story, which seems to end well, as Valentine’s talent wins him the opportunity to perform in court. Or perhaps it doesn’t. The final endpapers show birds flying away from his concert for the king and queen.

Delightful whether or not you’ve ever attempted to play a stringed instrument. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-935954-17-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lemniscaat USA

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials.

THE WHATIFS

Worrier Cora is plagued by the Whatifs until she learns a new way to tackle her anxieties.

Cora has a problem reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Whatif.” As she goes about her days, the Whatifs clamor for her attention. These embodied worries are presented as needling little monsters that range from silly and annoying to frightening. They become especially distracting in the lead-up to her big piano recital. Despite all her preparation, the Whatifs latch on and won’t let go. Just before her big performance, though, an older girl notices Cora’s distress. Stella encourages turning around the Whatif worries, a tactic drawn straight out of the cognitive behavioral therapy playbook. By reframing and pondering alternative and optimistic Whatifs, Cora is able to tackle her anxiety and succeed. Both Cora and Stella have dark hair and eyes and peachy complexions; Cora’s classmates and community appear fairly diverse. Cora and her Whatifs have a charming appeal beyond their focus on tackling anxious thoughts, making an enjoyable read-aloud for wide audiences. In her author’s note, Kilgore describes her own anxiety disorder. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51% of actual size.)

A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1029-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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