A passable effort with some high points.


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 conflict-resolution story that may well inspire young sports lovers to garden—or young gardeners to pick up a basketball.


From the Little Shaq series , Vol. 1

An argument between Little Shaq and his cousin Barry turns the two young basketball players into gardeners.

After Little Shaq makes a spectacular play in a basketball game at the rec center, Barry storms away mad. Astute readers will, like Little Shaq's next-door neighbor Rosa, recognize Barry's reason before Little Shaq does: rather than pass the ball to Barry when he called for it, Little Shaq ignored him, keeping the fun and the glory for himself. When Little Shaq's self-centered behavior rears its head again in a video gaming session, Barry throws his controller in frustration, breaking the game disc. After a fortuitous gardening lesson at school and an intervention by Little Shaq's dad, the boys launch a plan together to earn money for a replacement game. The boys' pride in their work shines through both the text and the artwork, and the basic elements of planting and watering are conveyed simply and effectively. There are lively, full-color illustrations throughout, some full-page, many playfully interspersed with the text. A community gathering to refurbish the rec center's garden—and eat a neighbor's homegrown tomato salsa—provides a feel-good finale to this above-average celebrity vehicle.

A conflict-resolution story that may well inspire young sports lovers to garden—or young gardeners to pick up a basketball. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61963-7214

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Zip to get this Zapped Jack book.


From the Jack Book series , Vol. 8

A rad addition to Barnett and Pizzoli’s early readers about Jack the rabbit, the Lady, and Rex the dog.

One rainy day, the Lady (who presents White) and Rex settle in for a nice day of reading. Jack doesn’t join them in this cozy activity, as he’s too busy enjoying his video game, “Rad Kid.” Then in a fantastic twist, lightning strikes, and, as the title foreshadows, Jack gets zapped into the game. An unlikely hero emerges as the Lady picks up the game controls and plays the game to save Zapped Jack, who, after some in-game fun, is defeated by the Boss. Pizzoli cleverly alters his illustrations for the scenes of the game within the book to make them appear pixelated, and Barnett’s funny, controlled text makes the story accessible to emergent readers. The text describing the Lady’s acquisition of gaming skills is particularly chuckleworthy: “You got this! Now go! Hop over that pit! Press A and RIGHT! / Oh. You fell in. // That’s OK! You get three lives. So you have two lives left! Just stomp on this bad guy and— / You died again.” Gaming isn’t vilified in this story, nor is reading elevated as the better activity, which makes it all the more likely that readers who prefer gaming over reading will actually enjoy this title. The backmatter gives directions for drawing Zapped Jack, and readers may well wish there were an accompanying game, too. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-13-inch double-page spreads viewed at 22.2% of actual size.)

Zip to get this Zapped Jack book. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11401-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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