This twist on dreams coming true goes on a bit too long.

CIRCUS GIRL

A young girl dreams of being a circus star in this British import.

Posters of trapeze artists adorn Sky’s walls, and she sleeps under a comforter patterned with big-top tents and colorful balloons. “She dreams of clowns, / She dreams of acrobats, / She dreams of stardust; / All the fun of the circus!” In this dream, a diverse troupe of performers makes music and performs stunts, one of them a figure in a wheelchair. However, a persistent voice keeps interrupting: “Get up Sky!” and “Hurry up Sky!” Sky, who has brown skin and straight, black hair, eventually wakes and heads out to start her day. This is when readers get a glimpse that there just might be reality behind this dream. There is a big top in the background, and the school Sky heads to from her trailer is another one, with “SCHOOL” on its door. Sky is a circus performer after all! Camp infuses the art with circus enthusiasm: Sky balances towers of school books in each hand (juggling and tumbling texts are mixed in), and at breakfast, a pyramid of coffee cups take center stage on the table. Overall, the reveal is fun, but while readers will enjoy seeing that the figures from Sky’s dreams inhabit her reality as well, dragging it out over 11 pages serves to deflate rather than increase excitement.

This twist on dreams coming true goes on a bit too long. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78628-298-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Child's Play

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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