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 sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish.

THE MECHANICAL MIND OF JOHN COGGIN

The dreary prospect of spending a lifetime making caskets instead of wonderful inventions prompts a young orphan to snatch up his little sister and flee. Where? To the circus, of course.

Fortunately or otherwise, John and 6-year-old Page join up with Boz—sometime human cannonball for the seedy Wandering Wayfarers and a “vertically challenged” trickster with a fantastic gift for sowing chaos. Alas, the budding engineer barely has time to settle in to begin work on an experimental circus wagon powered by chicken poop and dubbed (with questionable forethought) the Autopsy. The hot pursuit of malign and indomitable Great-Aunt Beauregard, the Coggins’ only living relative, forces all three to leave the troupe for further flights and misadventures. Teele spins her adventure around a sturdy protagonist whose love for his little sister is matched only by his fierce desire for something better in life for them both and tucks in an outstanding supporting cast featuring several notably strong-minded, independent women (Page, whose glare “would kill spiders dead,” not least among them). Better yet, in Boz she has created a scene-stealing force of nature, a free spirit who’s never happier than when he’s stirring up mischief. A climactic clutch culminating in a magnificently destructive display of fireworks leaves the Coggin sibs well-positioned for bright futures. (Illustrations not seen.)

A sly, side-splitting hoot from start to finish. (Adventure. 11-13)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234510-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers.

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BECOMING MUHAMMAD ALI

From the Becoming Ali series , Vol. 1

Two bestselling authors imagine the boyhood of the man who became the legendary boxing icon Muhammad Ali.

Cassius was a spirited child growing up in segregated Louisville, Kentucky. He had a loving home with his parents and younger brother, Rudy. Granddaddy Herman also was an important figure, imparting life lessons. His parents wanted him to succeed in school, but Cassius had difficulty reading and found more pleasure in playing and exploring outdoors. Early on, he and Rudy knew the restrictions of being African American, for example, encountering “Whites Only” signs at parks, but the brothers dreamed of fame like that enjoyed by Black boxer Joe Louis. Popular Cassius was especially close to Lucius “Lucky” Wakely; despite their academic differences, their deep connection remained after Lucky received a scholarship to a Catholic school. When Cassius wandered into the Columbia Boxing Gym, it seemed to be destiny, and he developed into a successful youth boxer. Told in two voices, with prose for the voice of Lucky and free verse for Cassius, the narrative provides readers with a multidimensional view of the early life of and influences on an important figure in sports and social change. Lucky’s observations give context while Cassius’ poetry encapsulates his drive, energy, and gift with words. Combined with dynamic illustrations by Anyabwile, the book captures the historical and social environment that produced Muhammad Ali.

A stellar collaboration that introduces an important and intriguing individual to today’s readers. (bibliography) (Biographical novel. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49816-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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