Review of Drum Dream Girl

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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

engle_drum dream girl

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 […]

Review of Trombone Shorty

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Trombone Shorty by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier Primary   Abrams   40 pp. 4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95 In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his […]

Review of How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazz

How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz by Jonah Winter; 
illus. by Keith Mallett Primary   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp. 6/15   978-1-59643-963-4   $17.99 Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine. Opening with a dreamy spread set in a dimly lit New […]

Review of Bird & Diz

golio_bird & diz

Bird & Diz by Gary Golio; illus. by Ed Young Primary   Candlewick   26 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-6660-6   $19.99 An impressionistic story of a “be-bop-a-skoodley” friendship comes together in the juxtaposition of a series of opposites — rendering and abstraction, saturation and resistance, darkness and light — reflecting the special partnership of two distinct musical legends. Golio […]

I’ll show you WINTER.

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Seasonally enough, last night I attended Blizzard of Voices, an oratorio by Paul Moravec (husband to your friend and mine Wendy Lamb). While you might have thought the warm and woody Jordan Hall would have been an oasis in Boston’s horrible weather, Moravec’s commemoration of the 1888 Schoolhouse Blizzard was terrible–in the exactest sense–in its evocation of […]

Be-bop-a-skoodley!

russell-brown_little melba

These new picture-book biographies of African American music pioneers give primary readers something to sing about during Black History Month — and all year long. Seven-year-old Melba Liston chose to learn to play the trombone — an unconventional choice for a girl. By age seventeen, she was touring alongside the jazz greats. As a female […]

Do you read your reviews?

Kipling

I’ve been reading soprano Barbara Hendricks‘s memoir, Lifting My Voice, and it’s led me not only to a rewarding reacquaintance with her singing but to some thinking about the relationship between the artist and the critic. Hendricks spills a suspicious amount of ink over how she doesn’t pay any attention to critics (whose opinions of her […]