My youngest nephew plays the drums in his middle school band. Sprout already thinks his cousins are the height of coolness, but the drum thing? That totally seals the deal. Ever since he found out that Cory is a drummer Sprout has gone crazy whenever he sees anything having to do with drums. I think we've read Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb about a thousand times and every single time he sees the first drumming monkey page he yells, "My Cory plays the drums too!!" at the top of his lungs. Seriously.
So you can just imagine the scene that ensued when he saw the book Drum City on the library shelf a few weeks back. "Hey drums!" he screeched, pushing past me to grab the book (thank goodness the librarians in our children's room aren't of the shushing variety). Of course Sprout insisted we read it RIGHT NOW. And again. And again. It was pretty clear right then and there that we had a real favorite on our hands.
I was completely unfamiliar with author Thea Guidone, though I knew Vanessa Newton for her fantastic illustrations for Cedella Marley's One Love. I love Newton's depictions of kids - she gets them spot-on, all gappy teeth and knobby knees and joyful exuberance. And Drum City also gives Newton the opportunity to illustrate some adults, as the crowd of bystanders that witnesses the drum parade. Newton goes all out here - each one of the kids and adults that populate her pages is completely original. There's so much to look at, from the trenchcoated businessman to the fashionable lady to the dredlocked market proprieter. The diversity is organic and natural, adding to the fun vibe that Guidone's text evokes.
And what text it is. You will love, love, love reading this book aloud, and it's a perfect choice for storytime in the library or classroom too. Bouncy and vibrant, Guidone's tale of a procession of kiddos drumming their way through the city is one that's guaranteed to get you out of your chair and moving. The rhymes and rhythms are absolutely infectious, as fun to read as they are to listen to. We like the way the kids utilize whatever is at hand for impromptu music-making: soup pots, washboards, buckets and brooms, sticks and garbage can lids. Since he's been cooking a lot with me lately, Sprout likes to point out the utensils he knows: wooden spoon, whisk, rolling pin.
One of the best things about using the library as much as we do is stumbling into titles we've never heard of - in this case, a real winner. Drum City is a delightful book, as wonderful to look at as it is to read, and a great showcase of author and illustrator skills. I can't wait to see more from this talented pair!
Drum City by Thea Guidone, published by Tricycle Press
Sample: "Something is coming. They watch and they wonder, / assuming the booming is summertime thunder. / Thumping and pounding, the echo resounding / the sound of the pound of the drums."
Bonus: Interview with the engaging Vanessa Newton from The Brown Bookshelf