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

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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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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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There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark.

ANTSY ANSEL

ANSEL ADAMS, A LIFE IN NATURE

This distillation of the photographer’s life and achievements focuses on his “antsy” youth and early influences.

A distracted, sickly student, Ansel reveled in nature along the beaches near his San Francisco home. He blossomed after his prescient father withdrew him from formal schooling, enabling home tutoring and such experiences as a season ticket to San Francisco’s 1915 world’s fair. Effectively employing onomatopoeia, Jenson-Elliott reveals 14-year-old Ansel’s pivotal experience at Yosemite. On a family trip, “Ansel got his first glimpse of Yosemite Valley—the ripple-rush-ROAR! of water and light! Light! Light! It was love at first sight.” In Yosemite, his parents gave him his first camera, and “he was off— Run-leap-scramble—SNAP!…Ansel’s photos became a / journal of everything he saw.” The final five double-page spreads compress 60-plus years: photography expeditions in Yosemite, marriage to Virginia Best, Adams’ government-commissioned work documenting the national parks, and the enduring importance of his photographic record of the American wild lands. Hale’s collages blend traditional and digital layering and include cropped photographic images such as Adams’ childhood home and wood-paneled station wagon. Her stylized depiction of Yosemite’s Half Dome and decision to render several iconic photographs as painterly thumbnails display a jarring disregard for Adams’ lifelong absorption with technical and visual precision.

There's a need for a good book for kids about Ansel Adams—and this one misses the mark. (biographical note, photographs with note, bibliography of adult resources, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-082-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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