Weatherford and Colón’s beautiful book does children a service by giving them one more African-American performer to applaud.

LEONTYNE PRICE

VOICE OF A CENTURY

Rising from the Mississippi Delta to the stages of the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, Price had a groundbreaking operatic career.

Weatherford introduces a less familiar name to children, laying out the major events in her life with poetic brevity. Encouraged by her musically gifted parents, the young Price played the piano and listened to Saturday-afternoon opera broadcasts. She heard Marian Anderson’s legendary 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial, but even so, she did not believe that she could become a performer because of her color. The turning point came when a college teacher encouraged her to study music, and gradually a career took shape. Porgy and Bess on Broadway was among her first national performances, and Aida on the opera stage was her triumph. Awards and accolades followed. The poetic text highlights Price’s firsts as an African-American opera singer. Colón employs his signature watercolor, crayon and pencil paintings with scratchboard texturing and a palette of warm teals, greens and oranges that swirl across the pages to capture the grandeur of her performances. One beautiful double-page spread features Price in the costumes of three major roles: the regal Cleopatra from Antony and Cleopatra, the tragic Cio-Cio from Madame Butterfly and Minnie, the feisty saloon keeper from The Girl of the Golden West.

Weatherford and Colón’s beautiful book does children a service by giving them one more African-American performer to applaud. (author’s note) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-85606-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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