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Solid, stirring fare for sports fans.

Remembering his father’s words of wisdom, Wataru Misaka, who broke the color barrier in basketball, persevered despite obstacles.

The child of Japanese immigrants, Wataru Misaka (1923-2019) grew up in Ogden, Utah, where his talent for basketball was apparent early on. Wat, as he was known, played on intergenerational Japanese American leagues, as the local sports leagues were for white people only. His father taught him a Japanese word: “Gambatte. Do your best.” It became Wat’s motto while enduring discrimination. Soon after the U.S. entered World War II, hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans were incarcerated; though Wat and his family were safe, the experience took an emotional toll. In college, a segregated dorm system forced him to sleep under the bleachers, and racist spectators heckled him during games. Anti-Japanese sentiments proliferated after the war ended. Undaunted, Wat fought for opportunities to show he belonged; in 1947, he was drafted by the New York Knicks and became the first player of color to join the Basketball Association of America (later renamed the National Basketball Association). Wat gave back to his community, too, bringing a championship blanket to Utah’s Topaz War Relocation Center, where his teammate's family was imprisoned. Kim’s straightforward, at times stiff text is well supported by Iwata’s bold, appealing artwork, which alternates full-page illustrations with action-packed vignettes. An author’s note provides additional biographical details.

Solid, stirring fare for sports fans. (sources) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2024

ISBN: 9781643796031

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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A heartwarming testament to music’s emotional power.

Music moves a nonverbal child to speak.

The narrator explains that Ronan was “born quiet. Some days he hardly says a word.” Today, when Father and Mother suggest outings to the beach or park, he’s quiet. But he looks up when Grandfather bursts in and proposes attending a concert. With refreshing optimism, Grandfather proclaims it “an adventure,” though Ronan’s parents worry about the “challenge” and “risk” of taking him to a performance. And when Ronan, his dog, and Grandfather reach Symphony Hall, an adventure it is. When the music starts, Ronan is swept away in a whirl of notes. Collectively, the instruments sound like “a sky full of stars,” sending him and his cheerful pup into a space-themed reverie. Boss notes that “the darker instruments sound cool and frightening” and the lighter ones sound “warm and friendly” but does not name the instruments, a missed opportunity to deepen readers’ understanding of the music enthralling Ronan. Audience and orchestra members alike are moved to laughter and applause when the music stops, and an awed Ronan utters his first “WOW!” Kheiriyeh’s endearing, pastel-hued cartoon illustrations convey Ronan’s astonishment and joy. Though an author’s note explains that the story is based on an actual nonverbal child’s experience of a Mozart piece in 2019, details such as Mother’s pearls and housedress and Grandfather’s finned car evoke a bucolic 1950s setting. Ronan and his family present white; background characters are racially diverse.

A heartwarming testament to music’s emotional power. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781534499713

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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From the Little People, BIG DREAMS series

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous...

A first introduction to the iconic civil rights activist.

“She was very little and very brave, and she always tried to do what was right.” Without many names or any dates, Kaiser traces Parks’ life and career from childhood to later fights for “fair schools, jobs, and houses for black people” as well as “voting rights, women’s rights and the rights of people in prison.” Though her refusal to change seats and the ensuing bus boycott are misleadingly presented as spontaneous acts of protest, young readers will come away with a clear picture of her worth as a role model. Though recognizable thanks to the large wire-rimmed glasses Parks sports from the outset as she marches confidently through Antelo’s stylized illustrations, she looks childlike throughout (as characteristic of this series), and her skin is unrealistically darkened to match the most common shade visible on other African-American figures. In her co-published Emmeline Pankhurst (illustrated by Ana Sanfelippo), Kaiser likewise simplistically implies that Great Britain led the way in granting universal women’s suffrage but highlights her subject’s courageous quest for justice, and Isabel Sánchez Vegara caps her profile of Audrey Hepburn (illustrated by Amaia Arrazola) with the moot but laudable claim that “helping people across the globe” (all of whom in the pictures are dark-skinned children) made Hepburn “happier than acting or dancing ever had.” All three titles end with photographs and timelines over more-detailed recaps plus at least one lead to further information.

It’s a bit sketchy of historical detail, but it’s coherent, inspirational, and engaging without indulging in rapturous flights of hyperbole. (Picture book/biography. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78603-018-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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