Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging.

PRINCESS JILL NEVER SITS STILL

From the Somos Ocho series

The energetic adventures of a princess who can’t stay in place.

When the newborn princess Jill is introduced to a joyous, unnamed kingdom, it’s all cheers and happiness. But then the king and queen discover that their child can’t be contained, forever bounding and twirling across throne rooms and kitchens and gardens. It’s amusingly conveyed in two-page spreads on which the tiny Jill’s paths are marked in heavy red crayon over sprightly cartoons. The various experts of the land—witches, warlocks, wise men—make their diagnoses (“Your Highnesses, Princess Jill has a case of I-can’t-keep-my-bottom-still”) and prescribe a series of ineffective treatments. What finally solves the dilemma is the introduction of another royal from a different kingdom, a boy named Pablo who is also perpetually bouncing up to the chandeliers, just like Jill. Unfortunately, the story abruptly ends there, leaving readers without much to hold onto other than the idea that Jill’s acrobatics are acceptable so long as someone else of importance does the same thing. Also worth noting: Jill never actually speaks; she’s only spoken about by other characters concerned about her actions. It’s a muddled message (or lack thereof) in an otherwise quick-moving jaunt. The Spanish-language original suffers the same issues but under a different name: Jill is Sara in that version, which is titled, La princesa Sara no para (literally, “The princess Sara doesn’t stop”). All characters present white.

Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-17123-83-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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