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

OSSIRI AND THE BALA MENGRO

From the Travellers' Tales series

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. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1.

LITTLE SHAQ TAKES A CHANCE

From the Little Shaq series , Vol. 2

A fictionalized young Shaquille O'Neal returns for a second illustrated story about life beyond the basketball court.

Little Shaq and his cousin Barry come home from the rec center giddy about Little Shaq's first three-point shot but are greeted with another surprise. For the first time, Little Shaq's mom has made sushi for a family dinner. Barry and the others dig in, but Little Shaq's curiosity about sushi only hits him after the last roll is gone. Little Shaq's joy and confidence on the court—best expressed when Little Shaq exuberantly tosses a postgame grape into Barry's mouth ("Three points!")—contrast strongly with his unease trying new foods or activities. A large part of the book concerns a school art project, and Little Shaq's frustration is made poignantly clear through both illustration and description ("Little Shaq crumpled up his drawing and marched back to the supply tables"). Throughout, the love among Little Shaq's family members shines through in their interactions, and the story delivers a message without triteness. Taylor’s full-color illustrations break up text on almost every page, adding warmth and energy. (Final art not seen.)

A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-844-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A conflict-resolution story that may well inspire young sports lovers to garden—or young gardeners to pick up a basketball.

LITTLE SHAQ

From the Little Shaq series , Vol. 1

An argument between Little Shaq and his cousin Barry turns the two young basketball players into gardeners.

After Little Shaq makes a spectacular play in a basketball game at the rec center, Barry storms away mad. Astute readers will, like Little Shaq's next-door neighbor Rosa, recognize Barry's reason before Little Shaq does: rather than pass the ball to Barry when he called for it, Little Shaq ignored him, keeping the fun and the glory for himself. When Little Shaq's self-centered behavior rears its head again in a video gaming session, Barry throws his controller in frustration, breaking the game disc. After a fortuitous gardening lesson at school and an intervention by Little Shaq's dad, the boys launch a plan together to earn money for a replacement game. The boys' pride in their work shines through both the text and the artwork, and the basic elements of planting and watering are conveyed simply and effectively. There are lively, full-color illustrations throughout, some full-page, many playfully interspersed with the text. A community gathering to refurbish the rec center's garden—and eat a neighbor's homegrown tomato salsa—provides a feel-good finale to this above-average celebrity vehicle.

A conflict-resolution story that may well inspire young sports lovers to garden—or young gardeners to pick up a basketball. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-7214

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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