A wonderful tale of imagination about the magic of marching to the beat of one’s own drum—even if it takes one in an...

It's Music Time

A boy discovers a world of danger—and music—in this fantastic nearly wordless picture book by veteran Bartlett (Tuba Lessons, 2009).

In a black-and-white world, a young boy leaves home to go to attend his drum lesson. His mother’s admonished him not to stray from the path, but, in the long tradition of fairy tales, he just can’t help himself and soon takes a path into the woods. First, he climbs the trees, using his drum as a stool to reach higher branches, and then he hangs upside down. Finally, he perceives musical notes—the first spots of color in the book—at the edge of his hearing. As he follows their call, the world becomes a marvelous, vivid place, and he meets a group of cartoonish woodland creatures (plus one giraffe and one penguin), all singing together. The drummer grabs his gear and joins them, pounding black musical notes into the air. Not wanting to be left out, a lion bounds onto the scene, roaring huge notes that bowl everyone over. Although the drummer scolds the lion, the great cat has the last word—a note that topples the drummer over a cliff in a fantastic two-page spread that requires readers to turn the book 90 degrees. With the help of the other animals, the lion pulls the drummer to safety. After another jam session, the boy departs—only to wake up in black-and-white again near his music teacher’s home. For readers familiar with Bartlett’s Tuba Lessons, which was illustrated by Monique Felix, this plot won’t be a new one. Indeed, this story is nearly identical to the one in that earlier, celebrated volume. But here, Bartlett presents his own original artwork, showing the story the way he envisions it. Both the text and pictures are delightful throughout, and even if readers already own Tuba Lessons, there’s enough joy here in the illustrations alone to merit reading—or owning—this version as well.

A wonderful tale of imagination about the magic of marching to the beat of one’s own drum—even if it takes one in an unexpected direction.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018


Page Count: -

Publisher: Sandhill Publishers

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2018

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.


A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.


From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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