Why is the head of a drum usually shaped like a circle? How would it sound if it were shaped like a square instead? Or a triangle? If you closed your eyes and listened, could you tell the difference? The mathematics used to prove that “one can hear the corners of a drum” are founded on […]
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4 Stars Drummer Boy of John John Mark Greenwood Frané Lessac Lee and Low Books Pages: 32 Ages: 4+ Jacket: Carnival is coming and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready to jump up and celebrate with music dancing, and a parade. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis—tasty friend [...]
In preparation for the release of our fall title Drummer Boy of John John, we wanted to share the sounds of the Caribbean with our readers. Drummer Boy of John John tells the story of young Winston and his dream to have a band at Carnival so he can win the prize of free rotis from the Roti King. Using metal objects found in a junkyard and ingenuity, Winston discovers a new type of sound and creates a band of his own!
According to legend, Winston “Spree” Simon invented the steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s. The steelpan is a percussion instrument played with rubber-tipped sticks and is the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. To get an idea of what steelpans sounds like, we’ve compiled a few performance clips. Have a listen:
1. A band plays “Stand By Me” at the Flatbush Frolic, a free community street fair, in Brooklyn, NY:
2. The Mangrove Band plays during the 2011 Notting Hill Carnival in London, UK:
3. And here’s one from our very own Hamilton Hill Steel Drum Band, the group profiled in our book Steel Drumming at the Apollo:
We hope you enjoy these festive sounds!
Filed under: New Release
Tagged: Drummer Boy of John John
, Winston Spree Simon
Art is an especially direct path to multicultural consciousness: the stretch an artist challenges us with is very like the stretch of seeing another culture afresh. Yet while there are wonderful art project books and books that present ideas about art, surprisingly few present actual works of art in a way that children can relate to directly. Bob Raczka’s Adventures in Art series, published by Lerner Publishing’s Millbrook Press imprint, does a great job of this, presenting real works of art with simple, often rhyming text. “Art is draped, art is chiseled, art is pasted, art is drizzled,” he explains in his 2002 Art Is. It features 27 works of art spanning the spectrum of time and genre from Bridget Riley and Christo to the Lascaux cave paintings and a mask from the Cameroon and concludes, “Art is an island surrounded by pink. Art is how artists get you to think.” Brief notes on each artist follow.
Raczka goes well beyond depicting famous works of art in an accessible context; his imagination and respect for kids make his series a work of art itself. Tune in again soon for more on good art books for kids, including more Bob Raczka books.
It's Nonfiction Monday! Visit the roundup at Picture Book of the Day!
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Millbrook Press
When I was young, I had little exposure or interest in art. As an adult, I'm surrounded by museums that feature art of various types, and when I visit these museums, I truly appreciate the art but wish I knew more about the history, the technique, and the artists themselves. I should have taken an art history course in college and maybe I'll still do it one of these days. If you have a child who loves art or if you'd like to expose your child to more art, Bob Raczka's Art Adventures series is a great way to introduce art without overwhelming him/her. Through paintings, portraits, photgraphs, sculpture, and easy-to-read text, Bob Raczka introduces some of the world's most famous works of art and encourages young readers to develop an appreciation for it.
A new book in the series, The Art of Freedom: How Artists See America, defines America through the eyes of famous artists. The book features 18 statements answering the question, "What is America?" Each statement is accompanied by a famous work of art that visually represents the statement. Underneath each work of art is the name of the artist, the name of the piece, and the location of where the piece is displayed. For example, beside the statement, "America is an idea," is John Trumbell's painting The Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776.
Ansel Adams' Desert Road accompanies the statement, "America is the open road," and Georgia O'Keefe's Brooklyn Bridge is opposite the page that says, "America is man-made marvels."
The background of each page alternates between red and blue with faded stars at the top. The art and colors, combined with the inspiring statements, give the book a very patriotic feel. I can even imagine this book being a great gift choice to US military members as a way to honor their service.
Raczka did an exceptional job of choosing art to compliment the text and makes these famous works of art accessible to young readers without intimidating or overwhelming them, and I am eager to read the other books in the series.
“Leila-sama! We got another e-mail question from my super-neat Jessie’s Letters page!”
“It is a question with profound meaning?”
“It is a question that seeks the deepest mysteries of the universe?”
“It is a question that will challenge our understanding of our existence?”
“It’s a question about being a drummer in marching band.”
“Oh, that’s easy.”
“Sometimes Leila frightens me.”
“Heheee… okay. The question says ‘In your story you said the drummers play a cadence. What’s a cadence?’”
“Cadence is when the drum section plays a rythym so the rest of the formation can keep time with their steps. We have four cadences in the Lions Band. The first two are full cadences.”
“That’s the one you start!”
“Yeah. Full Cadence Green starts with a roto-tom solo.”
“The other one is our ‘good morning’ cadence.”
“Full Cadence Gold starts with a full section downbeat and cymbal crash.”
“Good morning cadence?”
“We like to play Full Cadence Gold on Collins Circle over behind the school so if anyone in the neighborhood across the street didn’t hear their alarm clock we help them wake up.”
“Yay! Ohayo minna! It’s a bright sunshiney day!”
“Well, except for that one guy who stood in his driveway yelling at us that one day last year.”
“I think he thought we were trying to annoy everyone. Until we marched past his house in parade formation and played ‘National Emblem’ during after-school practice. His wife baked cookies for all of us the next day and brought them to the band room. She said he was so proud to have a parade in front of his house he almost cried. What a nice old couple too.”
“That’s cool. What are the other two cadences?”
“We have one called a ‘Silent Cadence’ if we’re marching up to a performance area at parades. There’s a couple hundred yards where bands aren’t allowed to make a lot of noise because it disrupts the bands in the performance area, so we play that cadence on the rims of our drums.”
“That’s the tick-tock cadence. All drum rims, traps and glockenspiels.”
“That’s the one that sounds like a carnival! I like the tick-tock cadence best.”
“The fourth one is a simple corps cadence. One snare plays the measure downbeats. We use that for starting formations on the field.”
“Now which one do we play in the tunnel at Brown Stadium?”
“Full Cadence Gold, baby.”
“Maximum volume. Maximum power.”
“Yay! Arigato minna-san! If you got a question or a comment or just wanna say ‘hi!’ you can send me e-mail on my Jessie’s Letters page and we might even get to answer your question right here on our site! Ja ne!”
Jen Robinson reads more books than anybody I know. Not only does she read hundreds of thousands of words every year, she also writes intelligent reviews.
Last year I started to read one of her reviews for an upcoming book, but she recommended reading the first book first. Go figure. I added it to my Wish List and hubby gave it to me for Christmas. The book was Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick.
Oh. My. Gosh.
Have you ever read a book and just had it change your world? As a reader and as a writer? Not only did Drums make me laugh out loud, it made me cry, it made me marvel, it made me want to write a book with characters just as real as the ones in this story.
If you look over the list of books I've read in the last year, you'll see my tastes lean toward fantasy. This book is not fantasy. And yet I loved it so much I'm ready to tell the world they have to read this book!
The main character, Steven, is an eighth grader who plays drums in a jazz band. He has an annoying younger brother (I can sympathize!) and a crush on the hottest girl in his class. But when his world turns upside down, he has to learn how to take control of the things he CAN change instead of wasting his anger on the the things he can't change.
This book has such an authentic middle grade voice, it's never preachy or mushy, always funny. I can't say enough wonderful things about it. I have now ordered every book by Jordan Sonnenblick and he's officially added to the list of author's I am likely to go "Fangirl" around. Consider yourself warned, Mr. S!
The sequel to this book, After Ever After, comes out next month. Jen Robinson read the ARC and highly recommended it.
As luck would have it, I have an extra copy of Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie to give away. For some reason, when my husband ordered this book for me, he ordered two. Maybe somehow he knew I'd love this book so much I'd want other people to read it?
If you'd like my extra copy, leave a comment below before 10 pm PST on Sunday. If I randomly select your name, I'll be sending it your way. Believe me, you want to read this book!
A to Z Challenge Day24: X … Xylophone. What is it? A xylophone is a percussion instrument, with wooden bars of graduating length, that sound the notes of the musical scale when a mallet hits them. A xylophone is also that toy your parents seem to always trip over at Christmas, swearing under their breath. The moment he [...]