Not likely to be a life-changing inspiration to any, save diehard Michael Jordan fans.

READ REVIEW

DREAM BIG

MICHAEL JORDAN AND THE PURSUIT OF OLYMPIC GOLD

Michael Jordan's mother returns for another story about her famous son's childhood.

Michael Jordan’s childhood dreams were always of playing basketball. His friends, brothers and mother are full of upbeat advice, encouraging him to work hard and keep practicing. After watching the U.S. Olympic team battle Russia, young Michael announces to his mother that he will be an Olympic basketball champion. More pat advice about dreamers and doers follows. But Michael puts his plan into action by asking his coach what he could do now to get closer to that dream. And in an ending that echoes Salt in His Shoes (cowritten with Roslyn Jordan and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, 2000), he goes to his older brother’s scrimmage and makes a three-pointer right over the heads of his opponents. An afterword sums up Michael’s journey to the Olympic Games—the culmination of lots of little steps undertaken day after day. While Michael’s story is an inspiring one, Jordan’s retelling may leave readers feeling less uplifted than bashed over the head. She tells rather than shows, and her emphasis on schoolwork, while worthy, is repeated a bit too often for either readers’ comfort or the flow of the story. Root’s watercolor-and-gouache illustrations convey to readers just how much Michael lives and breathes basketball.

Not likely to be a life-changing inspiration to any, save diehard Michael Jordan fans. (Picture book/biography. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-1269-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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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