Encouraging activity on multiple levels, a good choice for toddler board-book collections.

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I CAN DANCE

This interactive board book showcases several kinds of dance.

Two finger holes cut through this chunky board book allow children’s fingers to form dancers’ arms or legs. Rhyming text describes the dancers’ movements. For example, the ballerina says: “I can point with my toes. / I can do a plié. // I can twirl in my tutu. / I can dance a ballet!” In addition to the ballet dancer, readers can pretend to be disco dancers, gymnasts, break dancers, synchronized swimmers, and tap dancers. The colorful, uncluttered, intentionally childlike mixed-media illustrations feature child characters of varied ethnic backgrounds who all appear together on the stage in a final gatefold spread that has room for six fingers. The rhythm is sometimes stilted, but overall, this is an appropriately brief, appealing title with a simple bit of interactivity that toddlers will appreciate. Similarly, the simultaneously published I Can Play offers little ones the chance to turn their fingers into the arms or legs of sports players, including soccer players, basketball players, runners, and snowboarders. For a bit of added fun, both covers include an element of texture, a pink tutu on the dance title and a rough bit of Astroturf for the sports title.

Encouraging activity on multiple levels, a good choice for toddler board-book collections. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2929-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A witty addition to the long-running series.

THE DEEP END

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 15

The Wimpy Kid hits the road.

The Heffley clan has been stuck living together in Gramma’s basement for two months, waiting for the family home to be repaired, and the constant togetherness has been getting on everybody’s nerves. Luckily Greg’s Uncle Gary has a camper waiting for someone to use it, and so the Heffleys set off on the open road looking for an adventurous vacation, hoping the changing scenery will bring a spark back to the family unit. The winding road leads the Heffleys to a sprawling RV park, a setting teeming with possibilities for Greg to get up to his usual shenanigans. Greg’s snarky asides and misadventures continue to entertain. At this point the Wimpy Kid books run like a well-oiled machine, paced perfectly with witty lines, smart gags, and charming cartoons. Kinney knows just where to put a joke, the precise moment to give a character shading, and exactly how to get the narrative rolling, spinning out the oddest plot developments. The appreciation Kinney has for these characters seeps through the novels, endearing the Heffleys to readers even through this title, the 15th installment in a franchise boasting spinoffs, movies, and merchandise. There may come a time when Greg and his family overstay their welcome, but thankfully that day still seems far off.

A witty addition to the long-running series. (Humor. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4868-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: yesterday

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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