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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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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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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