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A moving testimonial to the effects of instilling a love of live music in childhood.

Singer Flack looks back on her childhood.

The titular piano, rescued from a junkyard for the 9-year-old prodigy, serves as a memorable central image, but the memoir the renowned singer and co-author Bolden weave around it is really about the joys of growing up in a musical family and turning musical dreams into reality through years of listening, practice, and study. Identifying her parents, siblings, and music teachers by name as she goes, Flack vivaciously recalls first her excitement as her father and mother painstakingly fixed up the “old, / ratty, beat-up, / weather-worn, / faded, / stained, / stinky” instrument (“I couldn’t wait, couldn’t wait, couldn’t WAIT for / the paint to dry!”), then the intense feeling of “notes flowing through my fingers / to my body, / to my soul,” on the way to a life in music: “Grown-up me lived this dream! Year after year after year!” Goodman follows along in equally lyrical measures, giving the brown-skinned narrator the same rhapsodic smile as she goes from a vision of playing hymns on a rickety-looking church piano at “age three, maybe four” to accompanying herself on a huge concert grand as an adult star. In a closing note, with photos, she offers further nods to people who helped her as she fills in the details of her stellar career. Family members and other figures in the pictures are African American. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A moving testimonial to the effects of instilling a love of live music in childhood. (timeline) (Picture-book biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-47987-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Random

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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