Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony.

MAESTRO MOUSE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BATON

When Maestro Mouse loses his baton, a group of young concertgoers conduct a search through all the sections of the orchestra.

The Barneses, whose mice have previously explored U.S. history and the workings of our federal government, now turn their attention to Washington, D.C., culture, setting this new story in a slightly altered Kennedy Center. (The exterior is Carnegie Hall in New York City; the inside a clear representation of the Center’s Concert Hall and vast corridors, though the bust of Kennedy has been replaced by one of Beethoven.) This well-meant introduction to a symphony orchestra is hampered by awkward language and unskilled illustrations. The lost-and-found story is written in rhyming fourteeners—a verse pattern that requires unnaturally lengthy lines and is difficult to write smoothly or read aloud comfortably. The conductor’s facial features differ from page to page, his shirt buttons occasionally change orientation, and, on one page, he’s lost his boutonniere. Section by section, mouse children, differentiated by their clothing, scurry through the orchestra seeking the baton. Usually the illustrations follow the text, but the larger stringed instruments don’t appear until three spreads after their mention in verse. Scott Hennesy and Joe Lanzisero play the same premise more skillfully in The Cat’s Baton Is Gone (2012).

Audiences can skip this amateur hour at the National Symphony. (notes for parents and teachers, matching game, facts, a page for a written response) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-62157-036-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch...

THERE WAS AN OLD MERMAID WHO SWALLOWED A SHARK!

Having eaten pretty much everything on land in 13 previous versions of the classic song, Colandro’s capaciously stomached oldster goes to sea.

Once again the original cumulative rhyme’s naturalistic aspects are dispensed with, so that not only doesn’t the old lady die, but neither do any of the creatures she consumes. Instead, the titular shark “left no mark,” a squid follows down the hatch to “float with the shark,” a fish to “dance with the squid,” an eel to “brighten the fish” (with “fluorescent light!” as a subsequent line explains), and so on—until at the end it’s revealed to be all pretending anyway on a visit to an aquarium. Likewise, though Lee outfits the bespectacled binge-eater with a finny tail and the requisite bra for most of the extended episode, she regains human feet and garb at the end. In the illustrations, the old lady and one of the two children who accompany her are pink-skinned; the other has frizzy hair and an amber complexion. A set of nature notes on the featured victims and a nautical seek-and-find that will send viewers back to the earlier pictures modestly enhance this latest iteration.

Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch bland. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-12993-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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