THE ICIEST, DICIEST, SCARIEST SLED RIDE EVER!

Parents beware: Children are likely to scout out the highest hill to try to replicate this amazing run.

A young girl’s first-person narration brings a New England sled ride to life.

But this isn’t just any sled ride. Inspired by ice-crusted snow, Grampa Bud’s yarns of his childhood and a giant homemade double-runner sled, seven friends set out to conquer the “highest, mightiest, iciest sledding hill.” Rule lengthens out one sled run into an entire book, but its pace is not slow and clunky, nor does it drag. Instead, she marvels in the details along the way, building up the suspense. Comically, the children attempt to get themselves and the sled to the top of the hill, taking each other out like dominoes as they relentlessly and repeatedly slide down to form a pig pile at the bottom. When they finally manage it, Thermes beautifully conveys the awesomeness of the hill they have chosen to tackle; none of the kids will speak their fears aloud, though their faces say volumes. The trip down is accomplished in just a few spreads, a ride so fast that tears, fears, screams and laughter all get whipped, “like a beautiful scarf trailing wildly behind.” The watercolors give a wonderful array of viewpoints, showing the path of the sled run as well as close-ups of the children: fresh-faced and having the time of their lives.

Parents beware: Children are likely to scout out the highest hill to try to replicate this amazing run. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-934031-88-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

THERE'S A ROCK CONCERT IN MY BEDROOM

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Bewitched by the rhythms of jazz all around her in Depression-era Kansas City, little Melba Doretta Liston longs to make music in this fictional account of a little-known jazz great.

Picking up the trombone at 7, the little girl teaches herself to play with the support of her Grandpa John and Momma Lucille, performing on the radio at 8 and touring as a pro at just 17. Both text and illustrations make it clear that it’s not all easy for Melba; “The Best Service for WHITES ONLY” reads a sign in a hotel window as the narrative describes a bigotry-plagued tour in the South with Billie Holiday. But joy carries the day, and the story ends on a high note, with Melba “dazzling audiences and making headlines” around the world. Russell-Brown’s debut text has an innate musicality, mixing judicious use of onomatopoeia with often sonorous prose. Morrison’s sinuous, exaggerated lines are the perfect match for Melba’s story; she puts her entire body into her playing, the exaggerated arch of her back and thrust of her shoulders mirroring the curves of her instrument. In one thrilling spread, the evening gown–clad instrumentalist stands over the male musicians, her slide crossing the gutter while the back bow disappears off the page to the left. An impressive discography complements a two-page afterword and a thorough bibliography.

Readers will agree that “Melba Doretta Liston was something special.” (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60060-898-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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