The 2013 CCBC Choices
Kirkus Review Best Books 2012
Carnival is coming, and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are
getting ready to jump up and celebrate with music, dancing, and a
parade. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis—tasty
fried pancakes filled with chicken, herbs, and spices— for the best
band in the parade.
Young Winston dreams of feasting on those delicious rotis.
But there's a problem: he's not in a band! Pondering his predicament
as he wanders through the village junkyard, Winston makes a curious
musical discovery that may be just the ticket to realizing his dream.
With ingenuity and the help of his friends, Winston takes on the
drumming his way to victory—and to the Roti King's prized treat.
Sun-drenched paintings and musical text joyously transport readers to the Caribbean, and to
this exuberant story inspired by the early life of Winston "Spree" Simon, a pioneer in the development
of the steel drum.
Starred Review Kirkus
"Winston, a boy in Trinidad, wishes that he could play
in a band and
win free rotis, the delicious island specialty prepared by
the Roti King and presented to the best performers at Carnival. In the weeks
before Carnival, the people of the Caribbean island are busy sewing costumes,
and bands are busy rehearsing with their gourds, bamboo sticks,
bottles-and-spoons and drums. Winston hear the sounds that his mango pit makes
when he chucks it into a junkyard. Inspired, he tries out different can and
tins, listening carefully to their different notes. More experimentation
follows, and soon, he is performing for his neighbors. Friends join him to form
a band made up of “pots and pans, tins and cans in a rainbow of colors.” The
sounds are winningly irresistible, and Winston and his fellow musicians soon
enjoy their “folded pancakes filled with chicken and secret herbs and spices.”
Greenwood’s story is based on the childhood of Winston Simon, the 20th-century
musician credited with the invention of the steel drum. The text is filled with
a cacophony of musical words that are fun and challenging to read aloud.
Lessac’s gouache paintings pulsate with sun-drenched island colors and often
resemble a folk-art quilt.