"Stepping in a rhythm to a Kurtis Blow.
Who needs to think when your feet just go?"
Tom Tom Club - The Genius of Love
Ed Piskor cannot rap or dance. He is no good with turntables or sampling. What Piskor can do is draw, which is why Hip Hop Family Tree is such an important testament to honoring the innovators and pioneers of the culture.
When I Was the Greatest is Jason Reynolds' first novel, but his voice is already fully-formed. He guides us through the life of Ali, a teenager living in Brooklyn, the non-Cosby part. Ali's mom complains about white gentrification raising the price of rent, but Ali does not fully follow.
I don't really get that. I mean, if I'm in a restaurant, and I order some food, and a white person walks in, all of a sudden I have to pay more for my meal? Makes no sense, but that's what she says.
George has a problem. He wants to be good. He knows how good dogs are supposed to act. They are not supposed to devour entire cakes that have been left on the table. They should probably leave any cats alone...dirt, too. George knows what he should do. He just doesn't do it. Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton, brings his eternal struggle to life.
"Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger."
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild takes on proper behavior and tears it to shreds. At the beginning of Peter Brown's picture book, four-legged animals walk stiffly upright, wear suits, dresses, top hats, and bonnets. Elephants, bears, and deer all have perfect posture. Every house on the block looks exactly the same, and our striped protagonist is sick of it.
Modern Vampires of the City is perhaps the catchiest, most joyous-sounding album to explore death that I have ever heard. The third release from collegiate prep rockers Vampire Weekend shows emotional and musical growth as lead singer Ezra Koening struggles with his own mortality.
Level Up's title is a video game reference, but it is also a metaphor for accepting responsibility and gaining maturity as one ages, which are qualities that Dennis Ouyang needs serious help with.
From the first time Dennis ever saw a Pac Man console as a child, he was mesmerized by the power that video games had. The idea of endless entertainment, based on skill and incredibly interactive, transfixes him.
Niño is one remarkable little boy. He may look like an ordinary child playing with his toys. When he picks up his red mask though, Niño Wrestles the World.
She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain takes the popular folk song to new heights of silliness. A serenading cactus begins our tune, inviting us to sing along. The "She" in question is a pint-sized cowgirl whose legend grows with the song.
We start normally enough, but when we find out that the six white horses she'll be driving are named "Misty, Moonbeam, Milkshake, Stardust, Silvermane, and Snowflake," we find ourselves riding off the beaten path into hilariously imaginative scenarios involving jelly-juggling and rooftop-dancing.
Troy Billings is about to kill himself. At 296 pounds, he's tired of being a joke. Every aspect of his life, the way he looks, moves, even the way he breathes, has become a punchline for his peers. If Troy had his way, Fat Kid Rules the World would be a pretty short read. Thank goodness Curt MacCrea enters the picture.