GIANT DANCE PARTY

Lexy lives to dance, but she dreads those terrifying recitals.

Somehow all the joy she feels in dancing deserts her entirely when she is on a stage in front of an audience. She freezes like an ice pop. All her efforts at overcoming this phobia fail, so she quits dance school. She decides to take a totally different approach by becoming a dance teacher, since they don’t have to perform. But in spite of great advertising and preparation, not a single pupil appears. The tale leaves the realm of the ordinary by introducing a group of fuzzy giants who truly love to dance, begging Lexy to teach them. Soon, they are leaping and step dancing and doing the twist. But at their recital, they turn into matching ice pops. Lexy leaps onto the stage, dances with joy and thaws the giants, who join her in a rip-roaring, crowd-pleasing spectacle, and, voila, stage fright is over for all of them. Strong, action-packed language and syntax that speaks directly to readers keep the tale flowing at a brisk pace and make the fantasy elements completely believable. Lexy is a charmer, full of pep and verve and enthusiasm, fully realized in Dorman’s large-scale digital illustrations as she sprightly cavorts through the pages.

Sheer joy. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-196083-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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