cover image Broadway Banjo Bill

Broadway Banjo Bill

Leah Komaiko. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-385-30524-2

``Walking down Broadway / Walking with my Mom-May / it's my / birthday / everybody look this way. / Look at me / I just turned six!'' So begins Komaiko's ( Annie Bananie ; I Like the Music ) funky, somewhat quirkily rhymed tale about a boy's search for his favorite street musician. When he discovers that Broadway Banjo Bill is not in his regular spot, the boy follows leads provided by other sidewalk performers, until he finally locates the jovial musician in a restaurant. He spies his fan, ``Then he stomps with his boot / And he smiles with his eyes / And he picks up his banjo / For the biggest surprise.'' That being, of course, a rousing chorus of ``Happy Birthday,'' in which all the other street musicians join as a baker appears with a cake. Though its rhythm occasionally stumbles, Komaiko's verse has an original beat and a kid-pleasing buoyancy, as do Spohn's humorously hyperbolic cartoons, drawn with ink marker and watercolors. Filled with motion, large-scale perspectives and radiant colors, these illustrations--which seem to spill off the pages in their merriment--get this first-time illustrator off to an exuberant start. Ages 4-8. ( Feb.)