Desert song

Laekan Zea Kemp

Book - 2024

"A family sings and plays music on a desert evening, in harmony with the nearby wildlife and the ancestors above."--

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Location Call Number   Status
Children's Room New Shelf jE/Kemp (NEW SHELF) Checked In
Children's Room New Shelf jE/Kemp (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 11, 2024
Picture books
New York : Neal Porter Books / Holiday House 2024.
Main Author
Laekan Zea Kemp (author)
Other Authors
Beatriz (Gutierrez Hernandez) Gutierrez (illustrator)
Physical Description
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 22 x 29 cm
Ages 4-8
Grades K-1
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

In the desert, the large open sky can be stunningly beautiful or it can make you feel very small. A young boy experiences both of these emotions in this atmospheric story. During the day, the sun dominates the desert. When night starts to come, there is a palpable change as coyotes, cicadas, and owls begin their evening songs, and the boy's family gathers their instruments, too. Sister, parents, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandparents all come together. The weather, land, and animals connect to the family and the music they play, each contributing something different, each adding to the whole. As they draw closely together, they remember ancestors now gone and feel them dancing in the sky among the stars. Flute, drum, and guitar are joined by el güiro and grito, with context provided by the vivid, flat acrylic gouache and colored-pencil illustrations. The songs and memories combine and contribute to the story portrait the boy is creating, illuminated by the light from his home and family, glowing softly in the otherwise dark night.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A desert sunset cues a large family to make music alongside "the coyotes, the cicadas,/ and the giant barn owls....// a chorus in need of a band," in this lyrical picture book written by Zea Kemp (A Crown for Corina). As a rich, warm sunset palette slowly gives way to the deep, beautiful blues of nighttime, Uncle Eduardo drums his hands on his jeans, Aunt Ofelia plays the flute, and other family members take up percussion and stringed instruments, until, "when my mother opens her mouth to sing,/ a hush falls over the desert." After the moon rises and Mami sings of memory, the child's father acknowledges that the Latinx-cued family plays "your great-great-grandfather's vihuela and my godmother's ocarina. To remind us that they're still alive between the notes. That when we sing to them, they're listening." Amid naïf-style scenes of the family collaborating with each other and the natural world, digitally finished acrylic gouache and colored pencil illustrations from Gutiérrez Hernández (Benito Juárez Fights for Justice) visualize the child's forebears in this work about connection that ends with "the glittering sky overhead, an audience of our ancestors"--and a development that sounds like applause. Creators' notes conclude. Ages 4--8. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 3--Written in lyrical free verse, this book describes how a family comes together in the evenings to make music. The music incorporates the natural sounds of the desert, including the animals and the wind, as well as the sounds the family makes with instruments, hands, and voices. Even the weather seems to be in service to the concert by sending lightning as a spotlight and rain on the roof as applause. The music connects this family not only to the desert, but to their ancestors, who taught family members to play and to celebrate the desert and its myriad characteristics. Every person is valued for their part to be played: an uncle taps out a beat on his dusty jeans, little sister plays maracas, mama sings, grandma plays guitar. Glorious, intensely colored artwork feels folkloric and echoes the wide expansiveness of the open landscape and the joy of sharing music with family--and with the rest the world. VERDICT A beautiful book celebrating music and family, offering multiple avenues into lessons on the environment, cultures, family, music, and more. --Debbie Tanner

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

When the nocturnal animals that surround a family's house in the desert come out, "they howl and buzz and hoot -- a chorus in need of a band." On the ample porch, each family member plays an instrument (some passed down from ancestors) that complements a natural sound -- maracas that sound like rattlesnakes, a flute "calling down the wind." The child narrator is learning to play guitar from Grandma and practices diligently to be able to join in the nightly concert. Gutiirrez Hernandez's expansive illustrations -- digitally rendered from acrylic gouache and colored pencil -- open with sunny pinks and gradually deepen into inky blue-greens and pearlescent whites as night falls. Kemp's lyrical metaphors set the desert stage, and "an audience of [the family's] ancestors" dances in the stars above and in their memories. The narrator's parents remind them that nature is full of memories: the moon is "a memory of the sun," and Mami sings "about the cacti remembering the rain." A gorgeous, intergenerational reflection on being mindful of the present while remembering and honoring loved ones from the past. Notes from author and illustrator are appended. Concurrently published in Spanish as Cancisn del desierto. Monica de los ReyesMay/June 2024 p.120 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

From their desert home under a full moon, a close-knit extended family accompanies the sounds of nighttime creatures with music of their own. As coyotes howl, cicadas buzz, and barn owls hoot, each family member improvises in harmony. Uncle Eduardo slaps his hands against his knees, sister Esme shakes her maracas, and the young narrator's grandfather plays el güiro. The narrator and Grandma pluck guitars, Aunt Ofelia plays flute, and the child's father hums. "When my mother opens her mouth to sing, / a hush falls over the desert." Kemp's poetic text conveys the desert sky's magnificence. The narrator's father speaks reverently of the heirloom instruments treasured and played by the family: "Your great-great-grandmother's vihuela and my godmother's ocarina…remind us that they're still alive between the notes." Gutiérrez Hernández's delicately stylized illustrations excel, particularly in the many nighttime spreads. While the family plays, sings, and dances, departed ancestors echo their actions from above, appearing silvery against a dark, velvet-blue sky laced with nightbirds, moths, stars, and the flashing lightning of an approaching storm. As the family retreats to the large porch, their concert ended by the closing curtains of massing clouds, "The rain on our tin roof sounds like applause." The narrator is brown-skinned, and the family varies in skin tone; the use of Spanish throughout implies that they are of Latine heritage. Publishes simultaneously in Spanish. Perfectly orchestrated: brava! (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.