A sweet book for budding musicians.

YOU CAN DO IT, NOISY NORA!

After hearing the beautiful notes of “Clair de lune” float down from her violinist neighbor’s window, little mouse Nora dreams of learning to play the violin herself.

With all the enthusiasm and determination a young child can muster, Nora takes her family to the music store, where they all suggest different instruments for her. Maybe a xylophone? Banjo? Anything but a “screeching violin!” opines big sister Kate. But Nora is dead set on a violin, so her excitement is palpable when her music teacher, Mrs. Yamamoto, shows up for her first lesson. As expected, there are a lot of twangs, shrieks, and whines to be heard before a tune begins to be found. But Nora has a goal in mind, so she keeps at it to meet her Sept. 1 deadline and surprise her family. The theme of practice and hard work paying off in the end, coupled with the support of a loving family (albeit with slightly annoyed siblings), makes this a lovely read with kids. With one significant and uncharacteristic hiccup, the rhyming text flows easily and in exactly the same pattern as Noisy Nora’s eponymous debut (1973), making it a solid read-aloud. It is full of bright, cheery, and funny illustrations in Wells’ familiar style, but her decision to dress Mrs. Yamamoto in a kimono has the unfortunate effect of exoticizing her in this otherwise Western setting.

A sweet book for budding musicians. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-99923-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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