Executed well and fun to read, this is a great addition to an already acclaimed series.



From the Mo Jackson series , Vol. 3

In this companion to Geisel Award–winning Don’t Throw It to Mo! (2015), it’s basketball season for small and mighty Mo Jackson, who must practice, practice, and practice before the big game.

Everyone on the team is taller than the little black boy, and he’s struggling to make sure his passes reach their hands. Coach Emma tries to help, but it’s not coming easy. “I have to practice passing,” Mo tells his dad on the walk home after practice. The big game is Saturday, and Mo’s mom prepares him with a big breakfast. Mo and teammate Eve watch from the bench until Eve enters after halftime. The score remains close deep into the second half. Mo will finally have his chance, as his teammate Gail needs to get a rest. “Go in” Coach says, and everyone waits to see if Mo can do what he’s been practicing all week. He’s quickly backed into a crunch, with the overpowering adversary Big Max blocking his way. “Here goes,” Max says as the book races to a surprising finish. The cartoon-styled, detailed illustrations allow emerging readers to follow the developing plot and make predictions using essential character context clues, while an ethnically diverse set of characters and equally diverse array of youth body types found within the story make for a well-rounded portrait of today’s readers. Mo’s mom and dad are both black, and Coach Emma is both brown-skinned and a woman.

Executed well and fun to read, this is a great addition to an already acclaimed series. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-28978-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.


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.


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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