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From the Travellers' Tales series

A familiar theme told from a distinct cultural and oral tradition by a Romani storyteller from England.

Eager to play like other Traveler musicians, a Romani girl constructs her own musical instrument from a willow branch and recycled objects and is surprised by the results.

When Ossiri begins to play the new instrument she calls a Tattin Django, the ugly noises it makes disturb the community. Soon she is warned that her playing will wake the Bala Mengro, a huge, hairy ogre. Ossiri moves beyond the campsite to play alone and is immediately surprised by the emergence of the large monster from his cave. Frightened, she begs to be allowed to leave, but the ogre insists on her playing more and begins to sing and dance to the ugly sounds. He then pays her with a silver necklace, so she plays for him daily, earning another piece of gold each time. When a stranger tricks her and steals her instrument, his playing for the ogre does not produce the expected generous results. Ossiri finds only her Tattin Django and the stranger’s boots outside the ogre’s cave and realizes that her inner desire to play rather than wanting riches truly impressed the Bala Mengro. Scenes set within their rural encampment show a family of light-brown–skinned “rag-and-bone” people in long skirts, bandanna scarves, and hooped earrings making a living from recycled items, as explained in the author’s note. The inclusion of trucks, vans, and camper caravans along with horse-drawn vehicles makes clear to readers that the story is set in the present day.

A familiar theme told from a distinct cultural and oral tradition by a Romani storyteller from England. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-8464-3925-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Amusing but a little off tempo.

It’s important to hit all the right notes.

A tan-skinned musical composer with puffy black hair is busy at work on his next musical masterpiece when Half Note, a music symbol denoting two beats, feels unappreciated. Half Note is jealous of the more commonly used Quarter Note (one beat) and Eighth Note. Although the other musical symbols attempt to calm and comfort Half Note, she decides to run away. The next day, Composer needs Half Note and panics when he realizes that she’s gone. The other notes and musical symbols try to find her, but it’s only when they try to play her favorite song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” without her—with terrible results—that she comes running back. The story’s humor—which is largely based on “dad joke” puns—is completely dependent on readers’ musical knowledge. The artwork, a mix of acrylic and colored pencil, attempts to add some allegrezza to the piece, and while it’s not unsuccessful, it’s facing an uphill battle. Music teachers and musically minded caregivers may find some value in this story, but it will likely be too specialized for general readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Amusing but a little off tempo. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-64567-631-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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From the Lucy Tries Sports series

It’s a slam dunk

Lucy discovers that the way to learn to play basketball is with friends on a neighborhood court.

Lucy loves playing in the park, and one day she and her friends join their friend Ava and her cousin in their new favorite sport: basketball. Pro player Jermaine, aka “Coach J,” teaches all the basics—footwork, quick passes, dribbling, and a variety of shots. But he also encourages the players to keep trying when they miss, stresses the value of teamwork, and focuses on fun as they learn and later play a practice game. At the end of the workout, Coach J invites the young players to watch him and his team play. Written in loose rhyming couplets, the text has many near rhymes and inconsistent meter. While the storyline is predictable, the book is a good introduction to basketball terms, and young basketball players and fans will appreciate reading about themselves. Vivid silhouetted figures against a white background portray male and female players of several races; Lucy herself is white while Ava and Coach J are black. One young player competes from a wheelchair. A half page of backmatter explains the history of basketball, the NBA and its players, and wheelchair basketball, and one entry also explains the three-on-three basketball that the children play. The book publishes in a simultaneous French edition translated by Rachel Martinez.

It’s a slam dunk . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1697-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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