Bravo! (author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

THE MUSIC IN GEORGE'S HEAD

GEORGE GERSHWIN CREATES RHAPSODY IN BLUE

Slade illuminates George Gershwin’s creative process, from inception to premiere of “Rhapsody in Blue.”

“I frequently hear music in the very heart of noise.” Gershwin’s assertion in the epigraph propels this playful portrait of one of American music’s greatest innovators. Young George plies New York’s streets, hearing classical music in penny arcades and jazz outside Harlem clubs. He takes piano lessons, creates music scrapbooks, sneaks into concerts, and writes songs, selling his first at age 17. Later, “Swanee,” plucked out on a “bumpy bus ride,” sells millions of copies, making Gershwin famous. Seeking to legitimize jazz, bandleader Paul Whiteman plans “An Experiment in Modern Music,” inviting Gershwin to perform. George plans a “dazzling, daring piece.” Bound for Boston on business, he’s inspired by the train’s accelerating syncopation: “Rattle-ty-BANG! Rattle-ty-BANG!” His favorite musical forms “blended together into one beautiful rhapsody. George heard his concerto. He even saw the notes on paper!” Innerst’s acrylic-on-paper compositions, in a striking palette of indigo, sepia, and white, whimsically evoke both the period and the composer’s creativity. Young George roller-skates past brownstones with shop signs that reflect his musical immersion: “Sharp & Sons,” “Allegro Co.” The final spread marvelously integrates words and images as the premiere ends. “No one had ever heard anything like it. Except George. He’d been hearing beautiful music all his life.” George sits at the concert piano, in tails—and roller skates.

Bravo! (author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62979-099-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity.

STACEY'S REMARKABLE BOOKS

Sharing books brings children from multiple backgrounds together in this companion to Stacey’s Extraordinary Words (2021).

Again lightly burnishing actual childhood memories, voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate Abrams recalls reaching out as a young book lover to Julie, a new Vietnamese classmate shy about reading in English. Choosing books to read and discuss together on weekly excursions to the school’s library, the two are soon joined by enough other children from Gambia, South Korea, and elsewhere that their beaming librarian, Mr. McCormick, who is dark-skinned, sets up an after-school club. Later, Julie adds some give and take to their friendship by helping Stacey overcome her own reluctance to join the other children on the playground. Though views of the library seen through a faint golden haze flecked with stars go a little over the top (school librarians may disagree), Thomas fills the space with animated, bright-eyed young faces clustering intimately together over books and rendered in various shades beneath a range of hairstyles and head coverings. The author underscores the diversity of the cast by slipping scattered comments in Spanish, Wolof, and other languages into the dialogue and, after extolling throughout the power of books and stories to make new friends as well as open imaginations to new experiences and identities, brings all of her themes together in an afterword capped by an excellent list of recommended picture books. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity. (Picture-book memoir. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-327185-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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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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