As Horse says, “turn off the frown. Start getting down!” Beginning readers—get up, dance, and read! (Early reader. 4-8)

DANCE, DANCE, DANCE!

From the I Like To Read series

From the opening panels it is clear that this is not a quiet reading book.

Much to Buggy’s chagrin, Horse loves to dance! The rubber-legged horse hops, leaps, twists, break-dances, and pirouettes across the pages. There’s even a John Travolta pose—all before the title page. But, hearing no music, Buggy insists, “You are just moving around.” In a sweet twist, Horse sympathetically declares, “I am not happy. Because you are not happy.” The problem is resolved with humor and compassion. Horse supplies music they can both hear. Then they both dance. Long uses fewer than 50 different words, many repeatedly, to tell this engaging story. “Dance,” “can,” and “can’t” are on almost every spread, ensuring new readers’ success. Hints to the meanings of more-challenging words are included in the pictures. The text consists entirely of Horse and Buggy’s conversation. Who is speaking is made clear by placing their simple declarative sentences in blocks of white with an arrow pointing at the speaker. The friends are cartoonish characters drawn in shades of gray with expressive round eyes; Horse’s are lashless, while Buggy’s sport three long lashes apiece, suggesting gender. These uncluttered and somewhat silly illustrations against solid blocks of teal, purple, orange, and green match the text perfectly.

As Horse says, “turn off the frown. Start getting down!” Beginning readers—get up, dance, and read! (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3859-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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