WHAT CHARLIE HEARD

A 20th-century composer whose music was so revolutionary that his contemporaries largely ignored him may seem an unlikely subject for a picture-book biography for children, but here Gerstein (I Am Arachne, 2001, etc.) manages to pull it off beautifully. Charles Ives, born in 1874 in Danbury, Connecticut, grows up hearing and learning to love noises of all sorts, from the music of his bandleader father to the ordinary sounds of the world around him: “Sometimes little Charlie lay in his crib just listening. He heard his mother’s long dress as she moved around his room. He heard big clocks and little clocks. He heard wagons and horse hooves. He heard dogs and crickets and the church bell next door.” As Charlie grows and begins writing music, the simple, direct text describes how he incorporates the sounds he hears into his music, slowly finding an audience in his old age. Delicate ink lines bristle with barely contained energy, while brilliant separations suffuse Charlie’s world with color. But what makes this really work are the onomatopoetic renderings of what Charlie hears that fill virtually every page. Hand-lettered “bong, bong, bongs” vie for space with “clangs,” “tweedles,” and “kapows,” all superimposed in color over the pictures to fill the reader’s eyes with sound, just as Ives’s compositions fill the ears with initially dissonant but ultimately exhilarating music. This vigorous and loving treatment begs to be read to musical accompaniment, and a brief biographical note at the end suggests some selections inspired by sounds depicted in the text. An unusual and joyful treatment of an unusual and joyful subject. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-38292-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

GOING PLACES

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more