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This is children’s music grown-ups won’t mind hearing over and over, no trouble at all.

For listeners of all ages, Boynton and Michael Ford’s latest CD/songbook combination presents 12 new songs in a country-western mode.

In this grand collection for children and their caregivers, the producers of Philadelphia Chickens (2002) sample styles beyond country music: cowboy, bluegrass and blues, honkytonk and hillbilly rock. The book has three sections: lyrics (or at least the first verse or two), written by Boynton and illustrated with her cartoons; musical notation (melody and chords) and complete words; and performers’ biographies. On the CD, the all-star collection of musicians includes names familiar to fans of the genre. They put these songs over convincingly, although it’s hard to imagine there weren’t some giggles along the way. The tunes, some written in collaboration with keyboardist Ford, are catchy and appealing, the arrangements simple enough to understand the words and the lyrics, which are appropriate for young children. There’s heartbreak, as a bunny bewails how “[t]hey make me clean up my room”; a small boy’s delight in “Trucks”; the dreamy “When Pigs Fly”; and two different versions of the titular “Frog Trouble.” The background percussion for “I’ve Got a Dog” includes The Scotty Brothers playing spoons. “Alligator Stroll” is followed by instructions and diagrams for simple dance steps. Backmatter includes instructions for making a folded-paper frog puppet.

This is children’s music grown-ups won’t mind hearing over and over, no trouble at all. (Songbook/CD. 3 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7611-7176-8

Page Count: 70

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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1001 BEES

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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From the Find Momo series , Vol. 7

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute.

Readers bid farewell to a beloved canine character.

Momo is—or was—an adorable and very photogenic border collie owned by author Knapp. The many readers who loved him in the previous half-dozen books are in for a shock with this one. “Momo had died” is the stark reality—and there are no photographs of him here. Instead, Momo has been replaced by a flat cartoonish pastiche with strange, staring round white eyes, inserted into some of Knapp’s photography (which remains appealing, insofar as it can be discerned under the mixed media). Previous books contained few or no words. Unfortunately, virtuosity behind a lens does not guarantee mastery of verse. The art here is accompanied by words that sometimes rhyme but never find a workable or predictable rhythm (“We’d fetch and we’d catch, / we’d run and we’d jump. Every day we found new / games to play”). It’s a pity, because the subject—a pet’s death—is an important one to address with children. Of course, Momo isn’t gone; he can still be found “everywhere” in memories. But alas, he can be found here only in the crude depictions of the darling dog so well known from the earlier books.

A well-meaning but lackluster tribute. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781683693864

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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