Comic-book and lucha libre fans alike will not tap out of this semibilingual smackdown.

TRAINING DAY

From the El Toro and Friends series

El Toro needs to train for his big lucha libre match, but all he wants to do is sleep!

Poor Kooky Dooky—¿Qué va hacer? What’s he going to do? This quirky, early-reader spinoff of the ¡Vamos! series follows exasperated trainer Kooky Dooky as he pulls all the stops to get and keep El Toro out of bed. How about a big breakfast? Nope. After a gigantic belch, the sluggish luchador nose-dives under the covers. The rooster lures his trainee out of the bed with smelly shoes and a promise to go easy. Finally the training program gets results: Obstreperous chickens are caught by hand—er, hoof; the unplugged mechanical bull is dominated; the “Spiked Piñatas of DOOM” are pulverized; junk cars are crushed; and abuelas are helped across the street. Todo es listo—all is ready. Today El Toro will obliterate The Wall (pun very much intended—one of The Wall’s fans sports a distinctive blond ’do and orange skin). The unstoppable Raúl the Third brings his border barrio to rip-roaring life with plenty of humor, embedded Spanish, and Chicano cultural references. Colorist Bay’s creative enhancement of Raúl’s detail-rich frames continues their energetic collaboration. Action explodes throughout, though readers may be disappointed by the abrupt ending. In the simultaneously publishing Tag Team, El Toro and La Oink Oink team up to clean the arena following their thrashing of Donny Dollars and the Bald Águila.

Comic-book and lucha libre fans alike will not tap out of this semibilingual smackdown. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-38038-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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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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