A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s.

HIGH FIVE

The Dragons Love Tacos (2012) crew invites readers to the 75th Annual High Five Tournament.

It’s not going to be a walkover, as opponents in the five rounds range from Gigantic the Bear (“700 Pounds of Hair”) and, after her, dizzying bouncer Kangaroo Paul to the ultimate challenger, eight-limbed Octopus Jones. Fortunately, young contenders have a yetilike ex-champ in their corner to offer vigorous if unevenly rhymed and metered commentary (“Was that your new signature slap? / My grandma fives better than that!”) as well as savvy advice on hand positioning and style points. Accentuated by block letters in diverse hues and the occasional outsized “HIGH FIVE!” Salmieri’s scribbly ink-and–colored-pencil drawings of the all-animal cast, audience, and panel of judges reflect the infectiously rising suspense and wild excitement as the unseen “Kid” the narrator addresses sends each foe in succession reeling away in stunned defeat. Just one thing left to do: “Hold up your trophy / and shout out ‘woo-hoo!’ / The new high five champ is you!” Along with the verbal coaching, a chart of variations on “The Classic,” such as “The Windmill,” “The Double Behind the Back Slam,” and even “The High Foot,” offers further challenges to ambitious fivers of all genders. As characters frequently address “Kid” directly and hold up dramatically foreshortened hands or paws to viewers, caregivers should be ready for this book to take a beating.

A high-spirited impetus to clap hands—or better yet, someone else’s. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-42889-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials.

THE WHATIFS

Worrier Cora is plagued by the Whatifs until she learns a new way to tackle her anxieties.

Cora has a problem reminiscent of Shel Silverstein’s poem “Whatif.” As she goes about her days, the Whatifs clamor for her attention. These embodied worries are presented as needling little monsters that range from silly and annoying to frightening. They become especially distracting in the lead-up to her big piano recital. Despite all her preparation, the Whatifs latch on and won’t let go. Just before her big performance, though, an older girl notices Cora’s distress. Stella encourages turning around the Whatif worries, a tactic drawn straight out of the cognitive behavioral therapy playbook. By reframing and pondering alternative and optimistic Whatifs, Cora is able to tackle her anxiety and succeed. Both Cora and Stella have dark hair and eyes and peachy complexions; Cora’s classmates and community appear fairly diverse. Cora and her Whatifs have a charming appeal beyond their focus on tackling anxious thoughts, making an enjoyable read-aloud for wide audiences. In her author’s note, Kilgore describes her own anxiety disorder. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 51% of actual size.)

A thoroughly welcome addition to growing collections of socio-emotional development materials. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4998-1029-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Bee

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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