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Melody Jams app review

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Similar in structure to Toca Boca’s Toca Band (but both a little less substantial and a little less…out there), Melody Jams (Melody Jams Inc., April 2016; iOS only) lets you rock out with your own hand-picked backup band. Fill up to five band spots by selecting from twelve monster musicians on instruments such as guitar, […]

Review of 88 Instruments

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88 Instruments by Chris Barton; 
illus. by Louis Thomas Primary    Knopf    32 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-53814-4    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-553-53815-1    $20.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-53823-6    $10.99 Move over, kid in the candy shop: a child has been unleashed in a music store, and the sight of its many — eighty-eight — instruments has the effect of […]

From The Guide: Celebrating Music

ajmera_music everywhere

Troy Andrews’s Trombone Shorty, for which Bryan Collier took home the 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (read his acceptance speech), is an inspirational musician’s-origin story. It’s also a celebration of music’s power to transform and uplift performers and to open doors. For more books to foster a love of and respect for music for […]

Review of Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong

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Just a Lucky So and So: The Story of Louis Armstrong by Lesa Cline-Ransome; 
illus. by James Ransome Primary    Holiday    40 pp. 4/16    978-0-8234-3428-2    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3598-2    $16.95 Today’s child may know Louis Armstrong only as the trumpeter of “What a Wonderful World” or as a character in an old movie; the Ransomes’ newest […]

Pop culture

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Anderson, Jennifer Joline  Miley Cyrus: Pop Princess Middle school, high school     112 pp.    ABDO/Essential Library Burling, Alexis  Pharrell Williams: Grammy-Winning Singer, Songwriter & Producer Middle school, high school     112 pp.   ABDO/Essential Library Lusted, Marcia Amidon  Blake Shelton: Country Singer & TV Personality Middle school, high school     112 pp.   ABDO/Essential Library Contemporary Lives series. Generously illustrated […]

Review of Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound

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Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through 
the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney Middle School   Roaring Brook   166 pp. 9/15   978-1-59643-973-3   $19.99   g As related by an irrepressible narrator Pinkney names “the Groove,” this history of Motown Records manages not only to smartly place the company and its hit records in the context of (mostly) […]

Review of Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music

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Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage 
Changed Music by Margarita Engle; 
illus. by Rafael López Primary    Houghton    40 pp. 3/15    978-0-544-10229-3    $16.99 A young girl dreams of becoming a drummer. Though she lives “on an island of music / in a city of drumbeats,” hers is an impossible dream: only boys play drums. An […]

Rock ‘n’ roll

anniss_story of hip-hop

Anniss, Matt  The Story of Hip-Hop Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Pop Music Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Punk and Indie Gr. 4–6     32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story of Rock Music Gr. 4–6      32 pp.     Smart Apple Anniss, Matt  The Story […]

They’ve got the beat

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Picture-book biographies can be an instrumental way to introduce children to musical figures. Whether they’re breaking new ground or slapping the skins — or both! — the following real-life performers will inspire kids to march to their own beat. The protagonist of Margarita Engle’s poetic picture book Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed […]

Please pass the beignets

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz

In our upcoming May/June issue, we review two nonfiction books starring jazz greats from the Big Easy: How Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz and Trombone Shorty.    Now I’m nostalgic for NOLA, particularly its incredible live music scene! I can’t wait to get back to Frenchmen St. The annual — and beloved — New Orleans […]