A gorgeous, immersive celebration of dancing and the grace within all bodies.

I WILL DANCE

A girl who uses a motorized wheelchair longs to dance.

The 10-year-old narrator can’t blow out the candles on her birthday cake, but she has one wish: to dance. But how can she “swirl, leap, twirl” when she can move only her head, arms, and fingers? Pretending isn’t enough. At breakfast one morning (a spill-proof cup at the child’s place adds cozy realism), one of her moms reads that the real-life company Young Dance is auditioning dancers of “all abilities, all ages.” Though apprehensive, she needs to try. At the instructor’s balletic welcome, she “swirl[s]” her fingers, joining a multiracial circle of dancers. Some dance unaided; some use “canes and crutches, / walkers and wheels.” One wears a prosthesis. Their dancing is emphatically “not pretend”—neither imaginary nor relegated to a form of therapy. Eva’s narration brims with elation as together they “create space, / create shape, / create dance,” culminating in a triumphant performance. The text itself dances across the page, lines tiptoeing phrase by phrase and echoing the shapes of dancers’ movements. Swaney’s simply drawn dancers are rosy-cheeked and cheerful; magic shimmers from their fingers, proudly joining them “[a]s one, / as us.” An author’s note explains that Eva is based on a real dancer; a note from Young Dance’s executive director describes the company. Eva presents as a child of color and wears glasses; her moms present white.

A gorgeous, immersive celebration of dancing and the grace within all bodies. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3061-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage...

THE LEMONADE CRIME

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 2

This sequel to The Lemonade War (2007), picking up just a few days later, focuses on how the fourth graders take justice into their own hands after learning that the main suspect in the case of the missing lemonade-stand money now owns the latest in game-box technology.

Siblings Evan and Jessie (who skipped third grade because of her precocity) are sure Scott Spencer stole the $208 from Evan’s shorts and want revenge, especially as Scott’s new toy makes him the most popular kid in class, despite his personal shortcomings. Jessie’s solution is to orchestrate a full-blown trial by jury after school, while Evan prefers to challenge Scott in basketball. Neither channel proves satisfactory for the two protagonists (whose rational and emotional reactions are followed throughout the third-person narrative), though, ultimately, the matter is resolved. Set during the week of Yom Kippur, the story raises beginning questions of fairness, integrity, sin and atonement. Like John Grisham's Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer (2010), much of the book is taken up with introducing courtroom proceedings for a fourth-grade level of understanding. Chapter headings provide definitions  (“due diligence,” “circumstantial evidence,” etc.) and explanation cards/documents drawn by Jessie are interspersed.

Readers will enjoy this sequel from a plot perspective and will learn how to play-act a trial, though they may not engage with the characters enough to care about how the justice actually pans out. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-27967-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2011

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