Be Quiet, Mike!

Leslie Patricelli, Author
Leslie Patricelli. Candlewick, $14.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4477-2
Paperback - 35 pages - 978-1-4063-3650-4
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Mike, a little monkey who started beating time in utero ("kick thump pow" comes through loud and clear on the obstetrician's stethoscope), turns everything from a garbage can to his sister's dolls into percussive instruments. So he's constantly being admonished with the titular refrain (which, ironically—or cleverly—begs to be shouted). Mike tries hard to play by the rules, but "the beat of his heart/ was stronger than his will." The gentle lesson Patricelli (the Patterson Puppies books) serves up is that exercising one's talent is great in the right context: a natural-born drummer should use a drum kit—and if that's out of reach (as is the one Mike spies in a store window), make necessity the mother of invention. Patricelli isn't the most felicitous rhymer—the literal writing and well-behaved meter don't do justice to her hero's gifts ("Mike was good at school—/ he wasn't one for yapping,/ but with pencils everywhere,/ he couldn't stop tapping"). But her bright acrylic pictures are the definition of upbeat and bouncy, and she gives the irrepressible, well-meaning Mike unexpected depth and poignancy. Ages 3–6. (Aug.)
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