A passable effort with some high points.

LOLA'S FANDANGO

A young Latina girl emerges from her older sister’s shadow when her father secretly teaches her to dance the flamenco.

Lola envies everything about her older sister Clementina, from her name to her hair to her painting. While hiding in her parents’ closet one day, Lola finds her mother’s old dancing shoes. After Mami won’t divulge the shoes’ details, Lola goes to her father and discovers that her mother used to dance flamenco. Lola convinces Papi that she possesses the duende (attitude) necessary for dancing flamenco, and he agrees to teach her in secret. The two practice whenever they can, starting with rhythm and building to footwork. After their dancing feet disturb a downstairs neighbor, Lola and Papi move to the roof and continue the lessons. Papi decides to plan a surprise party for Mami’s approaching birthday party, where Lola can show off her skills. At the party, Papi saves Lola from a brief wardrobe crisis with a new dress. Lola dances for her Mami, who later joins the dance, suddenly and inexplicably attired in a flamenco dress. Readers may also be confused by the title (the word fandango never appears in the story, only in a note), as well as the shift from sibling jealousy to flamenco without return.

A passable effort with some high points. (author’s note, Spanish glossary, CD; not heard) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-84686-174-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1.

LITTLE SHAQ TAKES A CHANCE

From the Little Shaq series , Vol. 2

A fictionalized young Shaquille O'Neal returns for a second illustrated story about life beyond the basketball court.

Little Shaq and his cousin Barry come home from the rec center giddy about Little Shaq's first three-point shot but are greeted with another surprise. For the first time, Little Shaq's mom has made sushi for a family dinner. Barry and the others dig in, but Little Shaq's curiosity about sushi only hits him after the last roll is gone. Little Shaq's joy and confidence on the court—best expressed when Little Shaq exuberantly tosses a postgame grape into Barry's mouth ("Three points!")—contrast strongly with his unease trying new foods or activities. A large part of the book concerns a school art project, and Little Shaq's frustration is made poignantly clear through both illustration and description ("Little Shaq crumpled up his drawing and marched back to the supply tables"). Throughout, the love among Little Shaq's family members shines through in their interactions, and the story delivers a message without triteness. Taylor’s full-color illustrations break up text on almost every page, adding warmth and energy. (Final art not seen.)

A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-844-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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