Dynamic, kid-centered book design, a poetic, pumped-up text set in a high-energy typeface, and jazzy line art set in vivid expanses of color all masterfully combine in this terrific picture-book paean to the life and career of Lakers’ star Magic Johnson. An award-winning poet and the recipient of the American Book Award, with his co-author, for Miles: The Autobiography (1990), Troupe’s text telescopes jazz-inflected phrasing and the punched-up energy of hip-hop culture with the potent coiled power of a talented, focused athlete, and, finally, explodes into the pure exhilaration of sport. “[T]ake the ball dazzling down the open lane / herk & jerk & raise your / six-foot, nine-inch frame / into air sweating screams / of your neon name . . . so put / the ball / on the floor / again, / ‘magic’ . . . & deal the roundball like the / juju man that you am . . . like the sho-nuff spaceman you am” The versatile Evans (Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter, p. 120, etc.) demonstrates that he is a particularly adept illustrator, one who, rather than being wedded to a single, signature style, selects the most effective technique and medium to pair with Troupe’s non-narrative riffs. Evans employs changing, kaleidoscopic, points of view, with cartoony, active, and stylized figures. The paintings crowd the pages and push the physical limits of the book’s covers while energetic, high-value palette imbue this book with the graphic-novel energy of fast-break play. A three-point shot from downtown! (Picture book. All ages)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0510-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Jump at the Sun

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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