SALT IN HIS SHOES

MICHAEL JORDAN IN PURSUIT OF A DREAM

Mother and sister combine to tell of a sweet-natured family reminiscence based on the childhood of America’s most famous athlete: the one and only Michael Jordan. In this fable, Michael’s own special brand of hoop dreams begins on a Saturday morning. Older brothers Larry and Ronnie play a regular pick-up game on a local court, which Michael is desperate to join. The tallest boy in the game, Mark, seems to sense Michael’s intensity and strong competitive urge. In fact, every time “Mikey” joins in, replacing no-show older kids with longer legs and far greater reach, Mark focuses especially on him—stealing the ball and winning the game. Michael feels the loss acutely. He even apologizes to his brothers, who understand and remind that after all, he’s the smallest player in the game. Once home, Michael takes a time-out with Mama, who’s cooking dinner for their large and active family. When Michael confides his desire to be tall. Mama, as usual, has the answer. “We’ll put salt in your shoes and say a prayer every night. Before you know it, you’ll be taller!” Young Michael does what his Mama suggests. Salt and prayers. But he adds one more thing—practice, practice, practice. Michael wore “his game shoes everywhere.” But after a few months, downhearted that he hasn’t grown as fast as he’d hoped, he has a one-on-one talk with Daddy. His counsel is as wise as Mama’s: “ ‘ . . .you’ve already got everything it takes to be a winner: right in here.’ Daddy tapped Michael on his chest.” Buoyed, Michael rushes to the court and scores the game-winning two-pointer—over the head of Mark. Nelson’s paintings add zest and child appeal though the book’s design and look makes it seem like a companion to dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen’s Dancing in the Wings (p. 1190), which Nelson also illustrated. This can be a source of soul-satisfying inspiration for kids who will probably read it as pure fact. But is it? Probably not. Professional athletes of Jordan’s caliber and talent have already achieved mythic proportions. Put this next to the shoes, ball, and Bulls jersey under the tree. (Picture Book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83371-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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26 FAIRMOUNT AVENUE

            The legions of fans who over the years have enjoyed dePaola’s autobiographical picture books will welcome this longer gathering of reminiscences.  Writing in an authentically childlike voice, he describes watching the new house his father was building go up despite a succession of disasters, from a brush fire to the hurricane of 1938.  Meanwhile, he also introduces family, friends, and neighbors, adds Nana Fall River to his already well-known Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, remembers his first day of school (“ ‘ When do we learn to read?’  I asked.  ‘Oh, we don’t learn how to read in kindergarten.  We learn to read next year, in first grade.’  ‘Fine,’ I said.  ‘I’ll be back next year.’  And I walked right out of school.”), recalls holidays, and explains his indignation when the plot of Disney’s “Snow White” doesn’t match the story he knows.  Generously illustrated with vignettes and larger scenes, this cheery, well-knit narrative proves that an old dog can learn new tricks, and learn them surpassingly well.  (Autobiography.  7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23246-X

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1999

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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