Kids practicing their reading skills deserve better.

RAPPY GOES TO THE SUPERMARKET

From the Rappy the Raptor series

The reluctant rhyming, rapping dino has to be dragged to the supermarket by his mother, but maybe shopping isn’t so bad.

In this outing, Rappy saves the day with his rhymes when his mother forgets her shopping list: luckily, he made up a poem. Up and down the aisles they roam, Rappy’s attitude slowly changing as he sees all the goods on offer. The young dino even goes out of his way to be helpful, volunteering to find the toilet paper on his own. But the precarious tower of tissue comes tumbling down on his head, bringing the manager running: “You’re a pest. / You made a mess. / And now I’m feeling lots of stress. / I’m gonna scream and lose control, / Unless you pick up every roll!” Turns out Rappy is a born salesman, and in no time, he has shoppers coming to pick up something they all need: “But just in case you forgot ’em, / This is something for your bottom!” Gutman makes the move to early readers with this entry in the I Can Read! series, a level two (“reading with help”) that uses challenging vocabulary (“mosquito,” “cough,” “windshield,” “guaranteed”) and anywhere from four to nine lines of verse on each page, with Bowers’ illustrations serving to break up the text. Unfortunately, rhymes often feel forced and the scansion falters, making this a lackluster outing.

Kids practicing their reading skills deserve better. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-225263-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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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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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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