Wide-ranging and accessible, this is a rich resource for musical exploration.


Music approached from many angles.

Richards and Schweitzer ask young readers to think about many different ways we can make and appreciate music, including creating, feeling, performing, and listening, peppering their invitation with a profusion of examples. Early on, they ask the question, When is a sound considered music? This is answered, in part, with an extensive, eclectic Spotify playlist, tracks from 155 albums including such disparate music as the dawn chorus of birds, John Cage’s silent “4’33”,” and music composed by artificial intelligence. But the text, set among appealing graphics, including some photographs and art reproductions, stands alone. What distinguishes this approach is its breadth. In a single, early page about the inspiration of bird songs, the authors bring up Bob Marley, Ludwig van Beethoven, Camille Saint-Saëns, Amy Beach, and Olivier Messiaen and his wife, Yvonne Loriod. (In the accompanying playlist that theme continues with selections from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, an anonymous medieval songwriter, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and Charlie Parker.) They offer examples from jazz, popular and classical music from many ages, folk music, background music for movies and video games, and music from many countries. They include vocalists, instrumentalists, composers, instruments, emotional effects, storytelling, and different ways we can listen to music. Each chapter is divided into shorter segments; topics are sometimes covered in a paragraph or two and sometimes fill a page.

Wide-ranging and accessible, this is a rich resource for musical exploration. (timeline, glossary, listening ideas, sources, list of illustrations, index) (Nonfiction. 9-15)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65247-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care.


In 1977, the oil carrier Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of oil into a formerly pristine Alaskan ocean inlet, killing millions of birds, animals, and fish. Despite a cleanup, crude oil is still there.

The Winters foretold the destructive powers of the atomic bomb allusively in The Secret Project (2017), leaving the actuality to the backmatter. They make no such accommodations to young audiences in this disturbing book. From the dark front cover, on which oily blobs conceal a seabird, to the rescuer’s sad face on the back, the mother-son team emphasizes the disaster. A relatively easy-to-read and poetically heightened text introduces the situation. Oil is pumped from the Earth “all day long, all night long, / day after day, year after year” in “what had been unspoiled land, home to Native people // and thousands of caribou.” The scale of extraction is huge: There’s “a giant pipeline” leading to “enormous ships.” Then, crash. Rivers of oil gush out over three full-bleed wordless pages. Subsequent scenes show rocks, seabirds, and sea otters covered with oil. Finally, 30 years later, animals have returned to a cheerful scene. “But if you lift a rock… // oil / seeps / up.” For an adult reader, this is heartbreaking. How much more difficult might this be for an animal-loving child?

Like oil itself, this is a book that needs to be handled with special care. (author’s note, further reading) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3077-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A splendid volume for young adventurers.



Based on her work with middle-school students, Long offers lessons on how to stay healthy and out of trouble while awaiting rescue, the same lessons taught to adults in her survival classes.

Her matter-of-fact, no-nonsense tone will play well with young readers, and the clear writing style is appropriate to the content. The engaging guide covers everything from building shelters to avoiding pigs and javelinas. With subjects like kissing bugs, scorpions, snow blindness and “How going to the bathroom can attract bears and mountain lions,” the volume invites browsing as much as studying. The information offered is sometimes obvious: “If you find yourself facing an alligator, get away from it”; sometime humorous: Raccoons will “fight with your dog, steal all your food, then climb up a tree and call you bad names in raccoon language”; and sometimes not comforting: “When alligators attack on land, they usually make one grab at you; if they miss, you are usually safe.” But when survival is at stake, the more information the better, especially when leavened with some wit. An excellent bibliography will lead young readers to a host of fascinating websites, and 150 clipart-style line drawings complement the text.

A splendid volume for young adventurers. (index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56976-708-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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