An excellent story about a man who remembers the community he came from and actively works to ensure its future success.

THE 5 O'CLOCK BAND

“Trombone Shorty” Andrews (with an authorial assist from Taylor) and illustrator Collier bring to life another compelling, true story of Andrews’ early life.

As a young boy, Shorty loved playing music with his friends so much that they created the eponymous band (so named because they practiced at 5:00 after finishing homework and chores). In this picture-book account, Troy becomes so caught up in playing his own music that he arrives late for the band’s performance and planned parade to discover that they left without him. Disappointed with himself, Troy wonders how he might ever become a bandleader after letting down his own band members. Crestfallen, he journeys through town, looking for his band. On his way, he encounters three New Orleans institutions—musician Tuba Tremé; Queen Lola, Creole chef; and a troupe of Mardi Gras Indians—who help him understand the ingredients for success. Collier’s characteristic collage illustrations effectively represent Troy’s emotional struggle for self-improvement, and the level of detail in the images portrays the liveliness of New Orleans well. Backmatter includes extensive notes from the author and illustrator and information about the Trombone Shorty Foundation, which exists to “preserve the rich musical culture of New Orleans.”

An excellent story about a man who remembers the community he came from and actively works to ensure its future success. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2836-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier.

FACTS VS. OPINIONS VS. ROBOTS

Charismatic robots populate this primer for kids growing up in an era when facts are considered debatable and opinions are oft expressed loudly and without empathy.

Rex tackles a very serious topic infrequently addressed in kids’ books: how to tell the difference between provable facts and far-less-provable opinions. To do this, Rex employs a handful of colorful and chatty robot pals who run through enough examples to make the distinctions clear. For instance, it’s a fact that the blue robot has two arms while the gold robot has four. However, while they both like to dance, it’s less certain there’s a definitive answer to the question: “Which of them has the coolest moves?” When the green and yellow robots share their preferences for ice cream (yes, robots eat ice cream, just add oil or nuts and bolts), it turns into a fight that might have come off a Twitter thread (“We are getting chocolate!” “No way, buckethead!”). Via a series of reboots, the robots learn how to respect opinions and engage in compromise. It’s a welcome use of skill-building to counter an information landscape filled with calls of “Fake news!” and toxic online discourse. Rex never says that these ’bots sometimes act like social media bots when they disagree, but he doesn’t have to. Perhaps most importantly, Rex’s robots demonstrate that in the absence of enough information, it’s perfectly fine to wait before acting.

Vital information for young media consumers; it couldn’t be timelier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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