MUSIC, MUSIC FOR EVERYONE

You might just well-up from the emotional charge of Williams' successor to A Chair for My Mother and Something Special for Me. It's the luminous tremor of the pictures, combined with what happens, that gives this a special vibrance. Grandma is sick, so the big, rose-print chair in the living room is often empty. Upstairs in bed, she likes it when Rosa and her friends play music for her: "Leora plays the drums, Mae plays the flute, Jenny plays the fiddle and I play my accordion." Worried because the big money jar is empty (maybe, says Mae, "because your mother has to spend all her money to take care of your grandma"), Rosa recalls her mother telling her about her other grandma, who played the accordion at parties and weddings, and was paid. Grandma's all for it. The Oak Street Band is formed; gets help, practices. And their first job is to play at a party for Leora's great-grandparents, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their comer market. (Now it's run by Leora's mother, who plays the radio. "But for the party she said there just had to be live music.") The children are first shy, then they play and play "like a real band"—while a whirl of dancers young and old fills two wordless pages. The book closes in quiet exultation, with Rosa putting her share of the evening's money into the big jar. Brimming to look at—see Grandma calling out the window, with big snowflakes in her hair—and heart-catching, sometimes, to listen to.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 1984

ISBN: 0688026036

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1984

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

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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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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