cover image Drum City

Drum City

Thea Guidone, illus. by Vanessa Newton., Random/Tricycle, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-158246-308-7

A makeshift drum line of kids—banging away at everything from pots and pans to garbage lids—wakes up a city from its torpor, and pretty soon everyone is joining in the fun. "People in traffic keeping the beat/ on the hood and the trunk/ and the bicycle seat." Debut author Guidone seems more interested in portraying kid power (" 'March!' calls the boy in the yard full of drums") and the activation of the grownups' inner drummers ("Mamas in rollers rock babies in strollers") than in conveying how the congenial cacophony actually sounds—the rhyming isn't particularly percussive, and there is a curious absence of onomatopoeia. Though many of the details in Newton's (Let Freedom Sing) digitally rendered artwork appear to set the story in the present, her 1950s-styled characterizations (one of the girls even wears Mary Janes and frilly ankle socks) are in keeping with the lowtech nature of the fun that's being had. The irony-free exuberance of Guidone's text and Newton's warm-hued crowd scenes give this book a lovely, old-fashioned feel. Ages 4–7. (June)