A lively introduction to a somewhat obscure and profoundly innovative musical figure.

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ESQUIVEL!

SPACE-AGE SOUND ARTIST

Wood and Tonatiuh combine to tell the story of a musician and composer kids have likely never heard of.

At 6, Juan García Esquivel figured out how to disable the paper roll in his family’s player piano, leaving him free to experiment and learn how to play the instrument himself. This spirit of experimentation never left Juan, who went on to become a pioneer in a quirky, innovative style of lounge music popular in the 1950s and ’60s. Esquivel!, as he became known, combined Latin rhythms, jazz, human voices, and unusual instruments in order to create unique musical textures and effects. During his career, Juan became popular in both Mexico and the United States, and he wrote many songs for TV shows and movies. The narrative presents the biographical facts of Juan’s life in an engaging and accessible manner. Young readers who have never before heard of this musician may find their curiosity piqued. However, it is Tonatiuh’s illustrations that truly spark the imagination. Tonatiuh employs his signature style of Mixtec codex–influenced design, combines it with playful tributes to the fashion and style of the 1960s, sprinkles in text blocks of onomatopoeia that seem to vibrate on the page, and fills in the empty areas with a watery mix of purples and blues that perfectly complements the spacey style expressed in the music.

A lively introduction to a somewhat obscure and profoundly innovative musical figure. (author’s note, illustrator’s note, resources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58089-673-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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