"Frog Concert, Frogs Only" reads the sign, but a band of music-loving mice sneak in anyway. Despite their enthusiasm, they are escorted out, and the only choice they have left is to make their own instruments and host a more inclusive concert. This book risks being a sleeper, or a "squeaker," as the case may be, since it's hard to tell from the title what this book is really about. Inside, it truly embodies the spirit of Vivian Gussman Paley's preschool philosophy, YOU CAN'T SAY YOU CAN'T PLAY, as sharing and asking people to join in a circle of play are what makes this story hit such a high note. This book also captures a proactive spirit of inventiveness as the mice seek and find everyday items to create their instruments, and will inspire children to do the same. Best of all are the expressive, detailed and very sweet illustrations: a lone mouse peeking out from behind a velvet curtain, into the shadowy double-page spread of an awaiting audience; little mice hands aligning pencils like keys of a xylophone and stretching cheese cloth over a tomato can to make a drum; a joyful choir of wide-mouth frogs and euphoric mice making beautiful music...together! (4 and up)
FOOTWORK: THE STORY OF FRED AND ADELE ASTAIRE by Roxanne Orgill, illustrated by Stéphanie Jorisch (Candlewick) (nonfiction) Before becoming tap-dancing king of the silver screen, Fred Astaire was on toe shoes atop a wooden wedding cake, playing the role of best friend and brother in his Vaudevillian family. Sensitive ink lines and watercolor washes capture the grace of the dancers and the tin-pan alley feel of the era. Hard knocks and high points mark the lesser-known part of Astaire's career, lending a new appreciation of the man leading Ginger Rogers, climbing staircases in slow motion, dancing with brooms, performing origami with his feet and dancing on the ceiling. Read, and then watch THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT to choreograph a few good steps toward a knowledge of Hollywood musicals. (7 and up)
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