Altogether, a pleasing interpretation of the creative process and the power of art to connect individuals.

READ REVIEW

VIVALDI AND THE INVISIBLE ORCHESTRA

Girls and women are often the overlooked players in music history.

This appealing book highlights a little-known facet of Antonio Vivaldi's composing life. He wrote much of his music for an Invisible Orchestra made up of girls from a Venetian orphanage, who performed behind a curtain. Costanza imagines that one of the young orphans wrote the four sonnets that inspired Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." Candida is Vivaldi's copyist, and she spends her days transcribing parts from his scores onto sheets for the musicians. His music feeds her daydreams, and she unconsciously scribbles poetry in the margins. Bright pastels in jewel tones create a patchwork of colors depicting the musical sources of Candida's inspiration; glittering stars and shimmering light dance across the pages. In contrast, the scores are drawn on a parchmentlike background. The musical notation is accurate and clearly legible, which will satisfy readers who are themselves musicians. Less pleasing is the sporadic use of italics, which has more of the effect of a reading primer than musical ornamentation. Some are effective as emphasis, others less so: "… to great applause… Candida stepped out and took a bow." Fluid pacing of scenes lyrically advances the story, although the characters' outsized heads sometimes threaten to overwhelm the charm of the illustrations.

Altogether, a pleasing interpretation of the creative process and the power of art to connect individuals. (author's note) (Picture book. 4–7)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7801-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages.

NOT QUITE NARWHAL

Being true to yourself means embracing differences and striding (or paddling) fearlessly into the world.

Emerging from a giant clam, baby unicorn Kelp lives among narwhals, believing he’s just not as good as everyone else at swimming, appreciating a squid dinner, or breathing underwater (he sports a glass diving helmet—with a gasket-encircled hole for his horn). Swept close to shore one day, he spies for the first time an adult unicorn and, struck by the resemblance to himself, totters onto solid ground. The “land narwhals” explain to him that they—and he—are unicorns. Kelp’s blissful new life of learning to do special unicorn things amid sparkles and rainbows is punctuated by sadness over the narwhal friends he left behind. Upon returning to his watery home, Kelp learns that the narwhals knew all along that he was actually a unicorn. Following a brief internal tussle over where he truly belongs, Kelp recognizes that he doesn’t have to be just one thing or another and happily unites his friends at the shoreline. As seen in Sima’s soft, digital illustrations, Kelp is adorable, and she evokes both undersea and aboveground environments artfully. The message is an appealing one that could speak to many family situations relating to multiple identities, but the central dilemma is resolved so quickly and easily that there is little room for emotional engagement.

A slim, feel-good story, as light and airy as the rainbows that grace its pages. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6909-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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