Simple in its storytelling, strong in its diversity, this is an entertaining as well as enlightening read.

READ REVIEW

KICK IT, MO!

From the Mo Jackson series , Vol. 4

Continuing his already-beloved Geisel Award–winning series, Adler brings Mo Jackson and the family to the soccer field, where overzealous Mo must hone his skills in order to perform at the big game.

Mo Jackson is a small boy who loves sports with all his heart, though he is often smaller, younger, and slower than the other kids on the field. In this outing, he must master kicking if he’s going to be a contributor to his team, keeping the soccer ball on the ground instead of allowing it to fly every which way. His mom and dad practice with Mo before the big game, rolling the ball to him again and again, but it’s not looking promising. When the game starts, Coach Judy reiterates to Mo and the rest of the kids: “Keep the ball low. Kick it on the ground. Kick it toward the goal.” With the game tied late, Mo will get his opportunity to test out his mighty kick he’d been practicing all day. Readers just may be surprised at the result. The easy-to-read large font shares each page with Ricks’ energized, cartoonish illustrations. They easily and often humorously support decoding the text. Mo, his parents, and Coach Judy are all black, and featured throughout are diverse characters of different skin tones, body types, hairstyles, and visible cultural cues.

Simple in its storytelling, strong in its diversity, this is an entertaining as well as enlightening read. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28981-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.

THE BEAR MUST GO ON

Four woodland animal friends put on a show.

Rabbit, Squirrel, and aptly named Other Squirrel (who has slightly redder fur than Squirrel) are a flurry of activity. They are going to put on a show. “A BIG show.…The BEST show!” It will have hats (tall ones), tickets (shiny ones), and a curtain (red—no, green). There are many decisions to be made. Bear, however, does not want to be part of it. He is too shy. He would prefer to be the note taker. Rabbit, Squirrel, and Other Squirrel fire off ideas, amending one another’s at furious speed, and Bear writes them all down. Scribbles appear in the white space surrounding the boulderlike ursine’s head. The ideas pile up; debut illustrator Todd deftly covers an entire page while Bear hunches in the middle, furiously writing. He hums a tune to keep himself calm. On the night of the performance, everything seems ready. Everything except…the show! They were so bogged down with the details, no one figured out what the show would be. The title gives away the ending from the very start, but Bear’s pluck is nevertheless laudable. Petty’s comedic quips are echoed in the frenzied art, with Bear looming large yet timid to ground it all. Limited, skilled use of panels helps to control the pacing.

A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3747-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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