DUKE ELLINGTON'S NUTCRACKER SUITE

Drawing from letters, memoirs, photos, film and recordings, Celenza presents a spry account of the 1960 composition and recording of a decidedly swinging Nutcracker Suite.

Laced with invented dialogue and crisply delineating the close collaboration between Ellington and his brilliant, classically trained friend, Billy Strayhorn, the narrative traces the piece from radical idea to work in progress to exuberant recording session. Such a bold departure—classical ballet into jazz suite—required convincing: Both the recording exec and the band were initially dubious. Text and art sync around the premise that the musical traditions and global influences of the cities in which Duke and “Strays” worked—L.A., New York, New Orleans, Vegas—infused the evolving composition with distinct rhythms and cultural metaphors. The brilliant music cues Tate’s full-bleed mixed-media pictures. Bold ink strokes outline and define figures—Duke’s quizzical forehead and Strays’ distinctive cheekbones are expressive squiggles—and create movement across paint-spattered spreads studded with stars, snowflakes and musical notes. The palette marries rich violet-blues with hot, harmonious yellows, sepia and crimson. The delightful accompanying full-length CD is a must-listen, since text and art mesh with it in genuine symbiosis, song by song. Indeed, the absence of a track list—ideally, integrated within the relevant page spreads—is a missed opportunity for deepening context.

Still, real cool. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-700-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. .

THE CONTRACT

For his eponymous imprint, the New York Yankees star leads off with a self-referential tale of Little League triumphs.

In the first of a projected 10 episodes based on the same number of “Life Lessons” espoused by the lead author’s Turn 2 Foundation, third-grader Derek turns in an essay announcing that his dream is to play shortstop for the New York Yankees (No. 1 on the Turn 2 list: “Set your goals high”). His parents take him seriously enough not only to present him with a “contract” that promises rewards for behaviors like working hard and avoiding alcohol and drugs, but also to put a flea in the ear of his teacher after she gives him a B-minus on the essay for being unrealistic. Derek then goes on to pull up his math grade. He also proceeds to pull off brilliant plays for his new Little League team despite finding himself stuck at second base while the coach’s son makes multiple bad decisions at shortstop and, worse, publicly puts down other team members. Jeter serves as his own best example of the chosen theme’s theoretical validity, but as he never acknowledges that making the majors (in any sport) requires uncommon physical talent as well as ambition and determination, this values-driven pitch is well out of the strike zone.

Plenty of baseball action, but the paint-by-numbers plot is just a vehicle for equally standard-issue advice. . (foundation ad and curriculum guide, not seen) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2312-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Jeter/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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THE FENWAY FOUL-UP

BALLPARK MYSTERIES, #1

From the Ballpark Mysteries series , Vol. 1

A new series for emerging chapter-book readers combines the allure of baseball parks with the challenge of solving a mystery. Mike and Kate have tickets to a Red Sox game and an all-access pass to the park, courtesy of Kate's mom, a sportswriter. The pass comes in handy when it's reported that star player Big D's lucky bat has been stolen, as it allows them to help find the thief. Historical details about Fenway Park, including the secret code found on the manual scoreboard, a look at Wally the mascot and a peek into the gift shop, will keep the young baseball fan reading, even when the actual mystery of the missing bat falls a little flat. Writing mysteries for very young readers is a challenge—the puzzle has to be easy enough to solve while sustaining readers' interest. This slight adventure is more baseball-park travel pamphlet than mystery, a vehicle for providing interesting details about one of the hallowed halls of baseball. Not a homerun, but certainly a double for the young enthusiast. On deck? The Pinstripe Ghost, also out on Feb. 22, 2011. (historical notes) (Mystery. 6-9)

 

 

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86703-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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