Kenya’s homework is to pick her favorite song and share it with her class. Sounds simple, but for Kenya, it’s anything but. With all that beautiful music in the world, how can she possibly choose? Her family and friends try to help by offering their favorite songs as choices, but it’s no help to Kenya. While those around her have made some great suggestions, Kenya has a hard time calling any one of them her favorite. For inspiration, Kenya accompanies her father to the Caribbean Cultural Center where he plays ...
Kenya’s homework is to pick her favorite song and share it with her class. Sounds simple, but for Kenya, it’s anything but. With all that beautiful music in the world, how can she possibly choose? Her family and friends try to help by offering their favorite songs as choices, but it’s no help to Kenya. While those around her have made some great suggestions, Kenya has a hard time calling any one of them her favorite. For inspiration, Kenya accompanies her father to the Caribbean Cultural Center where he plays music. Kenya hears music from Cuba and Trinidad, Haiti and Puerto Rico. She hears music in all different languages—French, English, Spanish. But still, Kenya can’t decide which song she likes best. Finally, Kenya makes her decision—one that will surprise readers while inspiring them to listen to the world around them.
K-Gr 3—Though Kenya comes from a musical family, she is having trouble with her homework assignment-choosing her favorite song. Her daddy, who plays jazz piano, takes her to the Caribbean Cultural Center, where she hears songs in several languages, dances the merengue, and makes maracas. Walking home through the park, their feet keep time, and they make up words to match the marching-band beat. She asks for her dad's help in writing an original song. The next Monday, the students in Mrs. Garcia's class share music and dances from their homelands. When her turn comes, with her daddy on the piano, her classmates sing along, and Kenya sings, "English, French, Spanish, too-/Music's how I speak to you!/Doesn't matter where you're from-/Just sing your song and play your drum!" The illustrations, done in colored pencils and watercolor, show talented young people proud of their heritage and willing to share it with others. The final illustration is a chalkboard map of the Caribbean islands, showing how much diversity exists in places so close together. Teachers and librarians will want to share recordings of the various types of music, and some lucky listeners may have hands-on experiences with maracas, bongos, and other rhythm instruments. Kenya's appreciation for the music around her and her loving relationship with her father make this an appealing story for most libraries.—Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
Kenya's homework assignment is to share her favorite song with her class. Can she find the perfect one? A family full of music and laughter tries to help young Kenya find a song to share with her classmates. Her father takes her to the Caribbean Cultural Center, where rooms are dedicated to different countries. Kenya visits rooms filled with the music of Trinidad, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, yet she still cannot choose a favorite song. What will she present to her classroom? A follow-up to Kenya's Word (2006), this book cannot quite decide its focus. Readers learn the names of musical genres, instruments and the Caribbean nations represented in Kenya's neighborhood. The illustrations are adequate but provide scarce clues to each culture aside from brief references to dances or instruments. The musical theme for the story is obvious, yet it is missing melodic words or a rhythmic cadence to the lengthy text. Kenya's family, however, proves to be helpful, talented and full of joyful music, surprising her classmates with a new song. While this provides a glimpse of a loving family living in a multicultural neighborhood, it misses the mark to truly celebrate Caribbean music and diversity. (Picture book. 4-8)