A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

FIREBIRD

A dancer offers encouragement to those who dream of following her onto the stage.

Copeland, a soloist with American Ballet Theater, is a rara avis, an African-American ballerina. In this, her first book for children, she establishes a dialogue with an imaginary young girl, also black, who is full of doubts. Copeland assures her that she too was “a dreaming shooting star of a girl” who worked very hard in class. Likewise, the young girl can “become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.” The text is untrammeled by capital letters or periods, and the language soars into dizzying heights of lyrical fancy that barely contain her message of inspiration. Myers’ artwork, a combination of textured paintings and collage, is the true standout. His vibrant reds, golds and blues, set into the sharp-edged patterns of the backgrounds, evoke the intense drama of the Firebird ballet and pulsate with kinetic synergy. Double-page spreads depict the young girl maturing from loneliness to uncertainty to accomplishment as the ballerina practices at the barre and provides a one-on-one display of bravura technique. The New York City skyline sparkles as Copeland does jetés over a jeweled Brooklyn Bridge.

A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16615-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

STINK AND THE FREAKY FROG FREAKOUT

From the Stink series , Vol. 8

Stink Moody, younger brother of Judy, hops into the spotlight with a common problem—and  one that’s a bit more unusual.

Stink would like to advance in his swimming lessons, but he’s afraid to put his face underwater and seems doomed to remain a Polliwog forever. Fortunately, he’s distracted from that issue by the sudden appearance around town—in some surprising places—of a whole lot of real frogs, a few of which are deformed. These frogs give McDonald the opportunity to offer a little information, through the voice of a nature-center guide, on how adverse environmental conditions can influence frog development. Stink memorizes a variety of frog sounds, enabling him to participate in a frog count at a local pond. Somehow, he becomes convinced that he’s turning into a frog himself, but that might just make it possible for him to swim underwater. Brief, cheery, oversized text and lot of cartoonish black-and-white illustrations (only some of which were available for review) make this a good choice for newly independent readers. A minor issue is that the text informs readers that it is early spring; even in Virginia, that’s a little early for Stink to be taking swimming lessons in an outdoor pool, as indicated in the illustrations.

Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6140-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

Die-hard Beatles fans may enjoy it, but it’s likely to leave others cold.

IN MY LIFE

Contemplate life and loss in this illustrated adaptation of the Beatles’ hit.

As the book opens, a female-presenting protagonist with brown skin and puffy dark hair is gifted a pink bicycle. She practices riding with a taller, also female-presenting friend, sibling, or caregiver with straight black hair and pale skin. As the duo treks around their seaside home, subtle hints suggest the passage of time. Hats are replaced by beachwear and then scarves; training wheels disappear, and the bike is replaced with a more grown-up model, this time in blue. As the lyrics reference the friends and lovers, of whom “some are dead, and some are living,” the older character is seen fading and then disappears altogether, suggesting the protagonist now has only the memory of a lost companion. The protagonist ages and has a young daughter, and the cycle continues—but readers who surmised that the older companion had died will be puzzled to see what seems to be the same character, seemingly alive but now with graying hair, emerge to welcome the protagonist and daughter. The color palette is inviting, but the characters are illustrated with large black dots for eyes—an unsettling choice reminiscent of the Other Mother from Neal Gaiman’s Coraline (2002) that may well create an emotional disconnect. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Die-hard Beatles fans may enjoy it, but it’s likely to leave others cold. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6585-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more