An unusual interpretation of a holiday classic, with memorable illustrations and the additional, helpful bonus of the...

THE NUTCRACKER

From the Story Orchestra series

This lavishly illustrated interpretation of The Nutcracker includes embedded chips that play short excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s music for the ballet.

The plot of the beloved ballet is retold in 10 double-page spreads, with a button that triggers an audio clip integrated into each spread. The story opens with the Christmas party at Clara’s house, with a multicultural crowd of guests in old-fashioned party clothes. The familiar tale unfolds with the battle between the toy soldiers and mice, the journey to the Land of Sweets, and the return to reality with Clara asleep under the Christmas tree. The text blocks are skillfully integrated into the illustrations, with borders of candies, flowers, or branches surrounding the words. Vibrant, detailed illustrations are filled with magical trees, fantasy flowers, and opulent backgrounds for the different dances. Every scene includes dancers of multiple ethnicities, including a Sugar Plum Fairy with brown skin. Clara and the other main characters are white. The final pages include a biographical note about Tchaikovsky, a glossary of musical and ballet terms, and buttons for all 10 musical chips along with explanations of the relevance of each selection to the story. The recordings are brief and of notably high quality for the format. Adults preparing children for attending a performance of the ballet will find this edition helpful in explaining both the plot of the ballet and Tchaikovsky’s music.

An unusual interpretation of a holiday classic, with memorable illustrations and the additional, helpful bonus of the thematic music. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-068-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere.

I'M ON IT!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

A frog tries to do everything a goat does, too.

Goat asks Frog to look at them before declaring “I’m ON it!” while balancing atop a tree stump near a pond. After an “Oooh!” and a “You know what?” Frog leaps off their lily pad to balance on a rock: “I’m on it, too!” Goat grabs a prop so that they can be both “on it AND beside it.” (It may take young readers a little bit to realize there are two its.) So does Frog. The competition continues as Frog struggles to mimic overconfident Goat’s antics. In addition to on and beside, the pair adds inside, between, under, and more. Eventually, it all gets to be too much for Frog to handle, so Frog falls into the water, resumes position on the lily pad, and declares “I am OVER it” while eating a fly. In an act of solidarity, Goat jumps in, too. In Tsurumi’s first foray into early readers she pares down her energetic, colorful cartoon style to the bare essentials without losing any of the madcap fun. Using fewer than 80 repeated words (over 12 of which are prepositions), the clever text instructs, delights, and revels in its own playfulness. Color-coded speech bubbles (orange for Goat, green for Frog) help match the dialogue with each speaker. Like others in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series, Elephant and Piggie metafictively bookend the main narrative with hilariously on-the-nose commentary.

Whether in hand or on shelf, this one’s sure to make a splash anywhere and everywhere. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-368-06696-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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