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From the Sports Royalty series

A surefire fan pleaser.

Thirteen WNBA stars of the present get fast-break tributes in this follow-up to 2003’s Hoop Queens.

Going for speed with short lines and staccato rhythms—“See / Courtney off the curl. / See / Courtney catch and shoot. / Must-see CV: / see / Courtney Vandersloot!”—Smith offers jargony takes on each player’s distinctive feats or style of play paired with monochrome action shots that have been processed so that only the balls and each subject’s uniform (and, when visible, shoes) are tinted. The cast runs to veterans, from Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi (“Power her up / start her up / DT3, Scoring Machine”) to sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike to A’ja Wilson: “Dribble drive smooth like / a fresh donut’s glaze. / Making it look easy / in so many ways, / A’ja got smoooooth / game for days.” The elder Ogwumike’s ragged acrostic entry—“Nigeria / Stanford / mother is great / blockparty / and 1”—isn’t the only example of the author growing a bit too fond of his literary conceits, but he does provide befuddled readers with explanatory notes at the end that shed light on everything from Brittney Griner’s multifaceted abilities on the court to Australian player Liz Cambage, who has scored more points in a WNBA game than anyone else.

A surefire fan pleaser. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9781536225341

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal.

Before growing up to become a major figure in the civil rights movement, a boy finds a role model.

Buffing up a childhood tale told by her renowned father, Young Shelton describes how young Andrew saw scary men marching in his New Orleans neighborhood (“It sounded like they were yelling ‘Hi, Hitler!’ ”). In response to his questions, his father took him to see a newsreel of Jesse Owens (“a runner who looked like me”) triumphing in the 1936 Olympics. “Racism is a sickness,” his father tells him. “We’ve got to help folks like that.” How? “Well, you can start by just being the best person you can be,” his father replies. “It’s what you do that counts.” In James’ hazy chalk pastels, Andrew joins racially diverse playmates (including a White child with an Irish accent proudly displaying the nickel he got from his aunt as a bribe to stop playing with “those Colored boys”) in tag and other games, playing catch with his dad, sitting in the midst of a cheering crowd in the local theater’s segregated balcony, and finally visualizing himself pelting down a track alongside his new hero—“head up, back straight, eyes focused,” as a thematically repeated line has it, on the finish line. An afterword by Young Shelton explains that she retold this story, told to her many times growing up, drawing from conversations with Young and from her own research; family photos are also included. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A pivotal moment in a child’s life, at once stirring and authentically personal. (illustrator’s note) (Autobiographical picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-545-55465-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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A pleasant-enough gathering, with some bright spots.

Verses on diverse topics, to read fast or slow, loud or low, to audiences of one or many.

Coelho writes in such a casual, loose-jointed style that even a poem written to demonstrate how “rhyming words really pop!” forcibly yokes “stars” with “far” and “snows” with “grow.” He kits each short poem or group of poems with largely interchangeable performance suggestions, from “Start softly and finish LOUD. This is called crescendo!” to (for a choral presentation) an unhelpful “try reading some lines together and some lines separately.” The typography is likewise generic, as all the poems are printed in the same size and, except for bolded homophones in one about the experiences of a “Chilly Chili,” weight. Still, two scary entries—one featuring an unseen creature creeping up to whisper in your ear (“Don’t Look Now”), the other about unexpectedly coming upon a cave filled with human remains (“The Bones of Pampachiri”)—offer delicious chills that balance the lightheartedness of groups of riddles and tongue twisters. For visual exuberance, Gray-Barnett uses scribbly lines and garish colors to good effect, and children or other human figures, when they appear, seem a racially and ethnically diverse lot.

A pleasant-enough gathering, with some bright spots. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4769-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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