Delightfully energetic, this will inspire young pianists



A bright, colorful introduction to a beloved instrument.

Rusch pairs up with Caldecott honoree Priceman (Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!, 1995) to produce this biography of the white Italian musician and craftsman Bartolomeo Cristofori. In 1688, Fernando de Medici chose Cristofori to build and restore harpsichords and other instruments. Priceman’s signature artwork is a perfect match for the words, which emphasize Cristofori’s desire for a keyboard instrument capable of the nuance of the violins he hears at the opera and the color he sees in paintings. Banners defining musical terms run across the tops of pages. Throughout are visual and textual cues to the meanings of those terms. One page is headed “pianissimo (very soft),” while the narrative reads, “a hush envelops the room….Feet pad across the room. Cloth rustles. Sand falls silently through an hourglass.” Here, soft purple watercolors surround the words, and a sleeping cat curls around the hourglass. Horses “whinny, snort, and stamp as a young prince and his entourage spring from the carriages to the cobblestones” in reflection of “crescendo (becoming louder).” By 1700, Cristofori’s new instrument, the pianoforte, is complete. Colorful waves of sound pour out of the opened instrument. Source material for the story is effectively embedded in the pages. Extensive backmatter further illuminates the text and invites readers to listen to recordings of surviving and replica pianos.

Delightfully energetic, this will inspire young pianists . (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4484-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.


After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.


Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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