It turns out that dance can be good for the stomach.

READ REVIEW

MARIA THE MATADOR

A food obsession takes a girl into a bullfighting arena.

Pigtailed Maria, a Spaniard, has one true love: churros. One is good, many are great. Happily for her, she reads a poster that guarantees a “LIFETIME SUPPLY OF CHURROS TO THE MATADOR LONGEST IN THE ARENA.” Unhappily for her, Maria is not built to fight bulls. The other matadors are scornful of her, but once in the fight they are all bested. It is now Maria’s turn to face that “most ferocious-looking bull.” She walks up to him and does not fight or wave her cape; rather, she invites him to dance. The bull has never heard this request, having only ever faced aggressive opponents. In a lovely double-page spread, the animal and Maria, fan in hand, show off their graceful moves. They are next seen happily enjoying churros at Maria’s table. Memories of another famous bull, Ferdinand, come to mind as beauty bests fighting. While Lambelet’s tale is purposefully pacifist, caregivers dealing with a child who will eat only one food may not appreciate the conclusion; others will wish for a note about churros, a fried dessert. The stylized pencil-and-digital illustrations depict angular humans and animals, and the color palette is primarily browns and purples. The typeface uses bold, capitalized words for emphasis.

It turns out that dance can be good for the stomach. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-656-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.

THE BEAR MUST GO ON

Four woodland animal friends put on a show.

Rabbit, Squirrel, and aptly named Other Squirrel (who has slightly redder fur than Squirrel) are a flurry of activity. They are going to put on a show. “A BIG show.…The BEST show!” It will have hats (tall ones), tickets (shiny ones), and a curtain (red—no, green). There are many decisions to be made. Bear, however, does not want to be part of it. He is too shy. He would prefer to be the note taker. Rabbit, Squirrel, and Other Squirrel fire off ideas, amending one another’s at furious speed, and Bear writes them all down. Scribbles appear in the white space surrounding the boulderlike ursine’s head. The ideas pile up; debut illustrator Todd deftly covers an entire page while Bear hunches in the middle, furiously writing. He hums a tune to keep himself calm. On the night of the performance, everything seems ready. Everything except…the show! They were so bogged down with the details, no one figured out what the show would be. The title gives away the ending from the very start, but Bear’s pluck is nevertheless laudable. Petty’s comedic quips are echoed in the frenzied art, with Bear looming large yet timid to ground it all. Limited, skilled use of panels helps to control the pacing.

A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3747-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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