cover image Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince

Big Tune: Rise of the Dancehall Prince

Alliah L. Agostini, illus. by Shamar Knight-Justice. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-3743-8994-9

Portrayals of diasporic Caribbean culture and a child’s selflessness distinguish Agostini’s 1990s Brooklyn-set story celebrating connection and community. As “cousins, aunties, uncles, friends/ pack the house, and fun begins,” young Shane, teased by his brothers for shyness, dreams of being crowned dancehall king like their father—an honor reserved for those with the best moves. Feeling pressure, Shane practices only in secret, saving money earned by collecting cans to buy a new pair of kicks that he’s sure will rocket him to the top. But when a speaker breaks and the bashment is canceled, Shane puts his own plans on hold to save “Big Tune Saturday”—an act that’s amply rewarded. Agostini’s buoyant rhyming verse pulses with details, and Knight-Justice’s stylized illustrations layer bold patterns and textures with typewritten text, sheet music, and images of the Jamaican flag, building a joyfully immersive portrait of neighborhood gatherings where “Swaying hips wine fast and slow./ Brown skin shines with black light’s glow.” An author’s note concludes. Ages 3–6. (Mar.)