Despite a few good poems and the much-needed subject matter, the end result lacks cohesion.


Durango’s ambitious, inventive poetry collection on Latino music and dance covers an enticing subject but ultimately tries to do too much.

During the summer, Marisol helps her father run his music store. This store attracts a plethora of Latino characters, many of whom long for the music of their home countries. Marisol’s first-person free-verse poem frames 14 one-page poems, each titled after different characters. The book alternates between Marisol’s evening at the store and these other poems, which appear in duos and trios until Marisol’s own verse on the title mambo ends the collection. VandenBroeck’s illustrations also rotate, from black and white for the frame narrative to color (replete with grinning, rosy-cheeked characters) for the individual poems. The shorter verses vary in style and length, including free verse, rhymed and concrete poems. Musical styles range from mariachi to vallenato, while the dances cover everything from the cha-cha-cha [sic] to the tango. Adding to the wave of characters, musical styles and dances are Spanish words with few, if any, textual clues, although the author does discuss each style briefly at the book’s end. While a few poems allude to the tumultuous backgrounds of some of the styles, the author’s note glosses over colonization and slavery in Latin American history.

Despite a few good poems and the much-needed subject matter, the end result lacks cohesion.   (author’s note, glossary) (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-723-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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Gross-out fun for aspiring pranksters.



Fuddy-duddies beware: This guide is for jokesters and comedians looking to pull off the perfect practical joke.

Delivering 101 goofy and giggle-inducing stunts, Julian’s handbook begins on a somber note by including a pledge for readers emphasizing the importance of safety, thoughtfulness, and respect. Warnings out of the way, young people are treated to a panoply of pranks wrapped loosely in a narrative by a certain Dr. Crankshaw of SHMOP, or the School of Hijinks, Malarkey & Outlandish Pranks, from mundane acts like crank calls and toothpaste-filled cookies to more clever ideas like recipes for homemade, edible poop (made from cocoa and peanut butter) and fried brain dust disorder (in which one’s brain pretends to disintegrate after too much homework). In addition to practical joke ideas, the author adds many helpful tips about comedic acting, explaining physical comedy, the importance of exaggerated facial expressions, voice modulation, and how to master the perfect pratfall. The pranks are presented with expressive cartoonlike illustrations, advice on preparation (such as necessary ingredients), and enumerated steps for execution. While not all the suggestions seem feasible, there is enough here to intrigue those looking for some silly, DIY entertainment. The illustrations throughout are notable for their inclusivity.

Gross-out fun for aspiring pranksters. (index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76844-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Odd Dot

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A stereotype about people with disabilities is shattered by this introduction to a dance company known as Dancing Wheels, a group composed of “sit down” and “stand-up” dancers. The story begins with Mary Fletcher-Verdi, born with spina bifida, a condition that causes weakness in the legs and spine. Mary always wanted to dance, and, encouraged by a family who focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t, she studied the art and eventually formed a mixed company, some who dance on their legs, and some who dance in wheelchairs. What she accomplished can be seen in this photo journal of the group’s dance workshop in which beginners and experienced dancers study and rehearse. Along the way, McMahon (One Belfast Boy, 1999, etc.) intersperses the history of the group, some details about the dancers, their families, and the rehearsal process that leads up to the final performance. Three children are featured, Jenny a wheelchair dancer, Devin, her stand-up partner, and Sabatino, the young son of Mary’s partner. The focus on these youngsters gives the reader a sense of their personalities and their lives with their families. Godt’s (Listen for the Bus, not reviewed, etc.) color photographs detail every aspect of the story and show the dancers at home and in rehearsal, interacting with each other, having fun, and finally performaning. They convey the dancer’s sense of joy as well as the commitment to the dance as an art form felt by the adult directors and teachers. An excellent book for helping children and adults expand their understanding about the abilities of the “disabled.” (Nonfiction. 7-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-88889-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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