THE BOURBON STREET MUSICIANS

Why has no one ever before set the Bremen Town Musicians down where they could really resonate—the American South? Well, no matter, because first-time children’s author Price has imaginatively and rhythmically done that in an auspicious debut. Price is a storyteller and early-music specialist who really bends a few notes in this well-loved story, weaving a fun-filled retelling that brays, howls, and crows to be read aloud. To recap: When mule is told by farmer his days are done, he runs off in the footsteps of his ma to “canter up Bourbon Street, under jazz evenings soft as yellow silk.” That kind of siren song, to play trumpet like Louis Armstrong in New Orleans, carries him along to enlist hound, cock, and cat, all of whom are at the end of their luck, into a real, sho-nuff bebop and jazz a cappella band! Ultimately, the hungry quartet sing for their supper, unwittingly scaring off and clearing the house of some well-heeled jewel thieves. Being their own best admirers, they never do get to Bourbon Street, but spend their days at their well-provisioned crawfish shack, “howling down the moon to dance on a song and a dare.” Though a few Southernisms in the story are inconsistent with Louisiana-isms, and a bayou is not a swamp, these are forgivable in the exuberant spirit of language play. Illustrator Glass (Mountain Men, 2001, etc.) known for his books on the American frontier, crosses the river with his loose, colorful style to harmonize perfectly with this completely satisfying, must-have rendition of the age-old tale. (Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: April 22, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-04076-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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