What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did
Last Week, Featuring Qin Leng and Frank Morrison

h1 September 19th, 2014 by jules

“Melba and her music trotted around the globe, dazzling audiences and making headlines in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. All her life, Melba kept composing and arranging music, kept making her trombone sing. Spread the word!
Melba Doretta Liston was something special.”

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“Ojiichan played every morning. From his study, the clear, bright notes would drift upstairs, through the shoji screen doors to where Hana slept on sweet-smelling tatami mats, and coax her awake as gently as sunshine.”
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Today over at Kirkus, I write about an utterly charming picture book import from the UK, The Storm Whale by Benji Davies. That is here.

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Since last week I wrote here about Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin (Kids Can Press, August 2014), illustrated by Qin Leng, and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone (Lee & Low, April 2014), written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner Frank Morrison, I’m following up with some art from each book today.

Enjoy. …


From Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin


“Ojiichan usually played classical pieces by Mozart or Mendelssohn or Bach.
But in the indigo evenings, while Hana and her brothers ate ice cream and oranges, Ojiichan would sit on the veranda and play requests. Hana always asked for a song about a crow cawing for her seven chicks. Whenever Ojiichan played it,
Hana would feel a shiver of happy-sadness ripple through her.”

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“The day of the talent show arrived and the school auditorium thrummed with excitement. Backstage, Hana waited with a walloping heart. A dozen acts, including five other violinists, had already gone before her. Finally, Hana heard
the master of ceremonies call her name.”

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“As Hana walked onto the stage, her violin tucked under her arm and bow gripped tight in her hand, an oceanic roar filled her ears. Things seemed to be moving in slow motion, and for one dizzy moment, Hana thought, ‘Kenji and Koji were right. This is going to be a disaster.’ She wished she could turn into a grain of rice
and disappear into a crack between the floorboards.”

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“As Hana continued to play all the special sounds she had practiced, the air around her came alive with buzzing bees … and lowing cows … and squeaking mice …
and croaking frogs. Finally, as the last sound effect trailed away, Hana tucked her bow and violin under her arm. ‘And that,’ she said to the audience, ‘is how I play the violin.’ Then she took a great big bow.”

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From Little Melba and Her Big Trombone


“Spread the word! Little Melba Doretta Liston was something special. The year she was born was 1926. The place was Kansas City, where you could reach out and feel the music. The avenues were lined with jazz clubs, street bands, and folks harmonizing on every corner. All the hot music makers made sure they had a gig in KC.”
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“Notes stirred and rhythms bubbled all through Melba’s home. She couldn’t get enough. Music was always on her mind. She daydreamed about beats and lyrics.
Music was on Melba’s mind at night too, when she should have been fast asleep.”

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“In high school Melba joined Alma Hightower’s famous after-school music club.
Melba quickly became the star player in the club’s band, The Melodic Dots. The other club members struggled to keep up with Melba. Jealous boys called her bad names. She tried not to care, but way down deep the names hurt. Melba used her horn
to turn all those hurt feelings into soulful music.”

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HANA HASHIMOTO, SIXTH VIOLIN. Text copyright © 2014 by Chieri Uegaki. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Qin Leng. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

LITTLE MELBA AND HER BIG TROMBONE. Copyright © 2014 by Katheryn Russell-Brown. Illustrations copyright © 2014 Frank Morrison. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lee & Low Books, New York.

6 comments to “What I’m Doing at Kirkus This Week, Plus What I Did
Last Week, Featuring Qin Leng and Frank Morrison”

  1. So excited about Hana Hashimoto. My daughter plays the violin and is entering her first competition in November. I was hoping to find her a gift for good luck. She’s going to flip about this.

    (BTW…she plays to our dogs…and the hamster too)

  2. Hope you enjoy it! (And may she break a leg!)

  3. That opening image is UNBELIEVABLY lovely. Thanks so much, Jules (and of course, Katheryn Russell-Brown)!

  4. Isn’t it great?

  5. […] Ooh, I really like Qin Leng’s artwork. I posted some here at 7-Imp last September (from Chieri Uegaki’s Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin). And Robert […]

  6. […] by Katheryn Russell-Brown and illustrated by Frank Morrison? There’s art from the book here at 7-Imp; it won a 2015 Coretta Scott King Illustrator […]

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