Fans of the Roches will appreciate in-jokes, like the mention of strawberry-apricot pie, but ultimately, this chronicle of...

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WANT TO BE IN A BAND?

While many children may answer the titular question in the affirmative, it seems likely that only (some) adults will appreciate the behind-the-scenes glimpse of one group’s genesis offered by quirky songstress Roche.

Although she begins by suggesting that, in general, kids who like to make noise may be budding musicians, Roche’s perspective quickly becomes specific. If you want to be in a band, “you’ll need two interesting, smart older sisters who can play guitars and sing.” She’s also a wee bit behind the times: The band she suggests emulating is the Beatles (though showing the dog in a shaggy wig as Ringo is worth a giggle—at least to grownups, who’ll know who he is). Roche does provide, and reiterate, some pragmatic advice: Aspiring musicians will need to practice, practice, practice. But it’s buried in an arch, overlong text with minimal child appeal. Potter’s distinctive watercolor-and-ink illustrations feature flat-faced characters and straightforward compositions, effectively conveying the action and creating a retro vibe. This suits Roche’s somewhat nostalgic view of growing up and getting famous perfectly, but unfortunately, it does little to inject energy or interest.

Fans of the Roches will appreciate in-jokes, like the mention of strawberry-apricot pie, but ultimately, this chronicle of perfecting skills and performing for ever larger audiences is too narrowly focused to provide encouragement, entertainment or inspiration. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86879-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last

SHAI & EMMIE STAR IN TO THE RESCUE!

From the Shai & Emmie series

A book about rescuing in which no rescue happens.

Shai, an African-American girl, and her white “bestie-best friend,” Emmie, play in the school orchestra at Sweet Auburn School for the Performing Arts. One afternoon, Shai spots a brown-and-white critter in her family’s backyard garden and assumes it’s a stray cat. She draws a picture of it and creates posters to figure out which neighbor has lost the cat. When Shai lures the animal with food, she sees that it’s not a cat but a rabbit, but being a city kid, she doesn’t understand that it’s wild. After Shai and Emmie capture it in a pet carrier, Shai’s veterinarian mother explains that the rabbit should live wild in the city. Shai then finds a better pet solution, even though their household already has eight pets. Besides its child-star author and the portrayal of a positive cross-racial friendship, this novel has little to recommend it. The art may give readers a point of reference for some scenes, but it adds little to the story. Furthermore, though children might appreciate Shai’s made-up words and phrases (“hunormous,” “sleepifying,” “lickety-clean,” “amazetastic”), this book’s readers, who are likely new to chapter books, may find them difficult to decipher.

Perhaps this series fills a reading niche, but this underwhelming third book in the series should be its last . (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5888-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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