Stalking undetected into your heart, this book effectively feeds the ninja need.

NINJA BABY

Ninjas have appeared recently in day cares as well as dojos, but how does a toddler ninja react when she meets the ultimate Kung Fu Master?

Nina was born a ninja, a fact apparent when she karate-chops the doctor who gives her bottom a gentle, welcoming thump. In no time she’s mastered the arts of the sneak attack (purloining doughnuts), vanishing (scaling the mobile above her crib), and hand-to-hand combat (diaper changes—need we say more?). All is more or less well until time goes by, and another ninja baby enters the home. Nina notes that the baby is clearly a Master by the way he disarms his captors and makes them carry him everywhere. After a quick tantrum, Nina realizes that she has a thing or two to learn from her equal in the ninja arts. Parents will naturally understand Zeltser’s wry metaphor, but the book is also an original take on the ways in which children may cope with new baby siblings (in this case, emulating their siblings’ more cuddly aspects). All the while, Goode’s sublime ink-and-watercolor drawings keep the violence in check and render even the most malicious tantrum nothing short of a magnificent exercise in technique. The image of Nina and the baby standing together, fists up for combat, is both hysterical and adorable.

Stalking undetected into your heart, this book effectively feeds the ninja need. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3542-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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