3 Kids Dreamin'
Linda Egland, Linda England. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80866-1
Slangy dialogue and gestural monochrome illustrations give a streetwise feel to England's first picture book. Guitarist Ramone, rapper Willie and drummer Yock form a group called Squeezed: ""Sounds come growlin'/ and hummin'/ and thunderin'/ from the drum's inside"" while the guitar makes ""High-pitched screams/ Low moanin' sighs/ Electric sounds."" The kids practice in a basement until Yock's mom pulls the plug on their amp. Determined to play, the three tote their instruments to a ex-musician's apartment. Mr. Moses ""Bass"" Smith, ""smilin' the dreams/ of an old bass man,"" understands their dilemma and welcomes them into his place for a jam session. Later, they make a nervous debut at a party for old-time jazz fans (with Mr. Moses on standup bass, natch). England styles this tale as a passing of the torch. The blind jazzman is a stock character, but the trio--whose members include two boys and a girl, black and white--suggests possibilities for budding artists. Schutzer (A Million Fish... More or Less) takes an unorthodox approach to the imagery, which is rendered in black crayon and ink on paper. Thick, grainy strokes contrast with thin ribbons of line, while charcoaly layers and diluted washes provide shades of gray. The drawling diction and loose, edgy art convey a hip attitude, but the message is anything but cynical--at the heart of the book lies a conventional success story. Ages 7-10. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997