JASON RAT-A-TAT

With some help from a perceptive grandpa, the unathletic middle child in a sports-centered family finds his bliss. Jason’s parents are coaches, his big brother plays baseball, his younger sister’s on a soccer team—even the dog plays ball. So is Jason bored when he has to tag along to endless games and practices? Not at all, for there are clouds to watch, a fort to build with his best friend, and always, always, rhythms in his head to beat out with whatever comes to hand. Unable to think beyond the playing fields, Jason’s parents are bemused by his lack of interest in sports, but Grandpa, seeing what’s up, brings him a snare drum. Jason’s in heaven, until he tries to capture the many beats he hears, and produces only noise. Not being born yesterday, however, Grandpa has also signed Jason up for lessons, and come that fall, the school’s band has a proud new drummer. In sketchy black-and-white art, Peck gives her lanky figures benevolent expressions, reflecting Jason’s patient response to his parents’ concern, and their willingness to not force the issue. Rodowksy (Clay, 2001, etc.) gives a young musician-in-the-making a realistic range of other interests while posing and resolving a common family issue without resorting to lectures or heated confrontations. A well-crafted, low-stress tale for any young reader who marches to the beat of . . . (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 8, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-33671-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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JUDY MOODY SAVES THE WORLD!

McDonald’s irrepressible third-grader (Judy Moody Gets Famous, 2001, etc.) takes a few false steps before hitting full stride. This time, not only has her genius little brother Stink submitted a competing entry in the Crazy Strips Band-Aid design contest, but in the wake of her science teacher’s heads-up about rainforest destruction and endangered animals, she sees every member of her family using rainforest products. It’s all more than enough to put her in a Mood, which gets her in trouble at home for letting Stink’s pet toad, Toady, go free, and at school for surreptitiously collecting all the pencils (made from rainforest cedar) in class. And to top it off, Stink’s Crazy Strips entry wins a prize, while she gets . . . a certificate. Chronicled amusingly in Reynolds’s frequent ink-and-tea drawings, Judy goes from pillar to post—but she justifies the pencil caper convincingly enough to spark a bottle drive that nets her and her classmates not only a hundred seedling trees for Costa Rica, but the coveted school Giraffe Award (given to those who stick their necks out), along with T-shirts and ice cream coupons. Judy’s growing corps of fans will crow “Rare!” right along with her. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7636-1446-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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