cover image Little Man

Little Man

Dionne Warwick and David Freeman Wooley, illus. by Fred Willingham. Charlesbridge, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-57091-731-8

“Everybody in my neighborhood has a thing,” explains Little Man, the forthright young narrator of this finding-one’s-bliss story. Little Man’s thing is mastering the drums. It isn’t easy being a novice (“Even my brother says that when I play, babies cry, dogs howl, and grown-ups run away”), but thanks to a rhythmic mantra that keeps him focused (“passion, purpose, and perfection”), an admirable work ethic, and a big goal—a gig drumming at the block party—Little Man triumphs. Say a Little Prayer collaborators Warwick and Freeman almost derail their story with an unnecessary subplot that has Little Man yearning for a bike, but otherwise their writing has an authentic, appealing directness; fans of the TV series Everybody Hates Chris will find a lot to like. If a tad flat for a story about a budding fervor for music, Willingham’s (Busy Fingers) realist pastel and airbrush illustrations give some sense of the easygoing congeniality of Little Man’s urban neighborhood and the infectious nature of a good beat. On an accompanying CD, Warwick reads the text and Wooley offers a drum demonstration. Ages 6–9. (Oct.)