This sweet multicultural story will resonate with anyone who has experienced stage fright, but Hana’s achievement will be...

HANA HASHIMOTO, SIXTH VIOLIN

When Hana Hashimoto signs up for the school talent show after only three violin lessons, her brothers laugh, but with diligent practice, she learns to make some surprising sounds.

Long ago, Hana’s grandfather Ojiichan was a professional violinist in Japan. When she and her brothers visited him the previous summer, he would play for them. She loved to hear what he could do with his instrument. Not only did he play classical pieces, he could play songs, imitate natural sounds and compose melodies for dancing fireflies. Hana hopes to learn to play like that. Uegaki’s narrative and Leng’s pleasing illustrations, spreads and vignettes drawn with pencil and digitally colored, seamlessly incorporate details of both Japanese and North American life. Hana practices every day. She plays for her unappreciative brothers, attentive parents, curious dog or a row of empty chairs (one holding a picture of her grandfather). When it’s time to perform, she worries and waits with “a walloping heart.” Two moving spreads show the small child on a vast stage, emphasizing her sudden anxiety and the relief of finding friendly faces in the audience.

This sweet multicultural story will resonate with anyone who has experienced stage fright, but Hana’s achievement will be particularly satisfying to young string players who have made some unusual music themselves. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-894786-33-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text.

BO'S MAGICAL NEW FRIEND

From the Unicorn Diaries series , Vol. 1

A unicorn learns a friendship lesson in this chapter-book series opener.

Unicorn Bo has friends but longs for a “bestie.” Luckily, a new unicorn pops into existence (literally: Unicorns appear on especially starry nights) and joins Bo at the Sparklegrove School for Unicorns, where they study things like unicorn magic. Each unicorn has a special power; Bo’s is granting wishes. Not knowing what his own might be distresses new unicorn Sunny. When the week’s assignment is to earn a patch by using their unicorn powers to help someone, Bo hopes Sunny will wish to know Bo's power (enabling both unicorns to complete the task, and besides, Bo enjoys Sunny’s company and wants to help him). But when the words come out wrong, Sunny thinks Bo was feigning friendship to get to grant a wish and earn a patch, setting up a fairly sophisticated conflict. Bo makes things up to Sunny, and then—with the unicorns friends again and no longer trying to force their powers—arising circumstances enable them to earn their patches. The cheerful illustrations feature a sherbet palette, using patterns for texture; on busy pages with background colors similar to the characters’ color schemes, this combines with the absence of outlines to make discerning some individual characters a challenge. The format, familiar to readers of Elliott’s Owl Diaries series, uses large print and speech bubbles to keep pages to a manageable amount of text.

A surprisingly nuanced lesson set in confidence-building, easy-to-decode text. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-32332-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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