Drummer Boy of John John

By Publishers Weekly

This is a biography of a real person: Winston “Spree” Simon is the creator of Trinidad’s signature steel drum. Working in gouache, Lessac, who worked with Greenwood on The Donkey of Galli-poli, combines bright tropical backgrounds of lemon yellow, sky blue, and palm green with the crowns, feathers, streamers, and rhinestones of Carnival costumes to make folk art–style paintings with firecracker energy. Funky onomatopoeia should give out-loud readings pizzazz (“The chac-chac players rattled rustling sounds. shoush-shap shukka-shap shoush-shap shukka-shap”), and dynamic type makes the words shimmy on the page. Valuable both for its portrait of a child inventor and a vibrant community of color.