Drummer Boy of John John

 
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Drummer Boy of John John

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Illustrator
Publisher
Lee & Low October 2012

“Winston wandered through the village and followed a goat path to the junkyard at the top of the hill. He sat beneath an old mango tree. Carnival jus’ ain’t right without a roti, he thought. I need a band. “Winston peeled a mango with his teeth and ate the juicy flesh. Then he hurled the pit into the junkyard. It bounced off a milk can, ricocheted from a biscuit tin, and struck a rusty old paint bucket. “pong ping pang”

I love books that pour out sound and inspire children to join together and produce rhythm and music, or even just to create a little joyful noise on their own. Back in my days at the preschool, we’d regularly craft drums and other rhythm instruments out of found objects and recycled materials. In those days, I’d often pull out a copy of Quentin Blake’s ALL JOIN IN, which is a treasure chest of onomatopoeia-filled verse about kids playing music, banging on kitchen pans, howling like cats, and marching like quacking ducks. “tom ping tom pang be doo be dom tom ping tom pah”

DRUMMER BOY OF JOHN JOHN, a chiming and clanging story set on the island of Trinidad, is similarly filled with joyful music and lots of rhythm instruments including, of course, the steel pan. In addition (see the quote, up top), it provides a great reason to slice up and share some ripe, juicy mangoes with any culturally-deprived kids who have never experienced what is, arguably, one of the ultimate taste treats on God’s green Earth.

Inspired by “the early life of Winston ‘Spree’ Simon,” the author – who is an accomplished drummer himself – cites writings by two of my heroes, Mickey Hart and Pete Seeger, among his sources. This is a book whose presentation requires some preparation, because you cannot possibly share a book like this and then sit still. You’ll need to gather up some raw materials for creating parade masks and costumes, lots of recyclables for making rhythm instruments and, definitely, a limbo pole. Then get ready, ‘cuz it’s parading and Carnival time!  32 pages  978-1600606526  Ages 5-9

Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USA

See more of his reviews at: Richie's Picks _http://richiespicks.com/_ (http://richiespicks.com/)

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