Elegant and evocative, this culturally authentic folktale beautifully conveys the powerful bonds of music and friendship.

READ REVIEW

THE MUSICIAN

From the Lofty Mountains and Flowing Water series

Imported from China, a visually captivating retelling of a classic Chinese folk story.

This sincere and ancient tale depicts the legendary friendship of Yu Boya and Zhong Ziqi. Both share a true understanding of music and bond when they meet by chance through their deep appreciation of the guqin, a traditional Chinese string instrument. Boya tells Ziqi how he was introduced to the guqin as a young boy and quickly mastered the technique needed to play proficiently. Though he was skilled, however, his music failed to connect to his audiences. Boya was sent to Penglai Island, fabled home of the immortals, to await a new teacher only to realize that it is nature that will inspire him to create his greatest compositions. Ziqi is moved by Boya’s ability to capture the essential beauty of nature, and Boya in turn is grateful to have found a companion who truly understands his music. Like Boya’s masterpieces, the illustrations reflect a reverence for the majestic Chinese landscape. Towering mountains that disappear into an endless mist and verdant river valleys are lushly portrayed with vibrant colors in a style emulating traditional Chinese brush art. There is a lovely balance between the bold landscapes and detailed, close-up images that allow readers to connect to the strong emotional resonance of the story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.375-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 32.7% of actual size.)

Elegant and evocative, this culturally authentic folktale beautifully conveys the powerful bonds of music and friendship. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6978-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Utterly compelling.

WHEN I WAS EIGHT

The authors of Fatty Legs (2010) distill that moving memoir of an Inuit child’s residential school experience into an even more powerful picture book.

“Brave, clever, and as unyielding” as the sharpening stone for which she’s named, Olemaun convinces her father to send her from their far-north village to the “outsiders’ school.” There, the 8-year-old receives particularly vicious treatment from one of the nuns, who cuts her hair, assigns her endless chores, locks her in a dark basement and gives her ugly red socks that make her the object of other children’s taunts. In her first-person narration, she compares the nun to the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, a story she has heard from her sister and longs to read for herself, subtly reminding readers of the power of literature to help face real life. Grimard portrays this black-cloaked nun with a scowl and a hooked nose, the image of a witch. Her paintings stretch across the gutter and sometimes fill the spreads. Varying perspectives and angles, she brings readers into this unfamiliar world. Opening with a spread showing the child’s home in a vast, frozen landscape, she proceeds to hone in on the painful school details. A final spread shows the triumphant child and her book: “[N]ow I could read.”

Utterly compelling. (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55451-490-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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