Plump little Jim "liked his music loud and he liked it heavy," but he doesn't know how to read music—an inconvenient fact discovered by his mother after Mr. Strange (a stoat) sells them a recorder cheap. Mom gives Jim a succinct lesson in "do re mi" and the staff's lines and spaces ("Fat Alligators Cautiously Eat Grapefruit") despite Jim's punning parries; then the recorder leads Jim to an inn where he gets word of a noisy music-maker in a nearby tower, a fearsome place where he finds "Itsa Thing," a blond singer hung about with chains, lamenting a lost song she didn't know how to write down—a skill Jim can now share. All this is a curious descendant of Hoban's cozily endearing Frances stories. The little badger's songs were surprisingly similar to the lyrics recorded here; and where Frances embodied everyday friendly conflicts, Jim's fixation on heavy metal sometimes seems almost as universal. The story is less earthshaking than the music described, but Hoban is still a master of satirical legerdemain; his wordplay and cleverly interwoven innuendos make a magical music of their own. Lewin's winsome, freely limned hedgehogs are as comical—and nearly as deft—as the drawings of Hoban's sometime British illustrator, Quentin Blake. Far-out, but funny, truly original, and sure to appeal to the right audience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 23, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59760-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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A very pleasing first-chapter book from its funny and tender opening salvo to its heartwarming closer. Ray and his Grampa Halfmoon live in Chicago, but Grampa comes from Oklahoma. Six vignettes make up the short chapters. Among them: Ray finds a way to buy Grampa the pair of moccasins that remind him of home and Smith gets in a gentle jab at the commercialization of Native American artifacts. At a Christmas stuck far away from the Oklahoma relatives the pair finds comfort and joy even when the electricity goes out, and in a funny sequence of disasters, a haircut gone seriously awry enables a purple-and-orange dye job to be just the ticket for little-league spirit. The language is spare, clean, and rhythmic, with a little sentimentality to soften the edges. Ray and Grampa have a warm and loving intergenerational bond that’s an added treat. With a nod toward contemporary Native Americans, Grampa tells Cherokee and Seminole family stories, and when Ray gets to be in a wedding party, the groom is Polish-Menominee and his bride is Choctaw. An excellent choice for younger readers from the author of the bittersweet Rain Is Not My Indian Name (2001). (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-029531-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2002

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Nolen and Nelson offer a smaller, but no less gifted counterpart to Big Jabe (2000) in this new tall tale. Shortly after being born one stormy night, Rose thanks her parents, picks a name, and gathers lightning into a ball—all of which is only a harbinger of feats to come. Decked out in full cowboy gear and oozing self-confidence from every pore, Rose cuts a diminutive, but heroic figure in Nelson’s big, broad Western scenes. Though she carries a twisted iron rod as dark as her skin and ropes clouds with fencing wire, Rose overcomes her greatest challenge—a pair of rampaging twisters—not with strength, but with a lullaby her parents sang. After turning tornadoes into much-needed rain clouds, Rose rides away, “that mighty, mighty song pressing on the bull’s-eye that was set at the center of her heart.” Throughout, she shows a reflective bent that gives her more dimension than most tall-tale heroes: a doff of the Stetson to her and her creators. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216472-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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