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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A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

RAFI AND ROSI MUSIC!

From the Rafi and Rosi series

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity.

STACEY'S REMARKABLE BOOKS

Sharing books brings children from multiple backgrounds together in this companion to Stacey’s Extraordinary Words (2021).

Again lightly burnishing actual childhood memories, voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate Abrams recalls reaching out as a young book lover to Julie, a new Vietnamese classmate shy about reading in English. Choosing books to read and discuss together on weekly excursions to the school’s library, the two are soon joined by enough other children from Gambia, South Korea, and elsewhere that their beaming librarian, Mr. McCormick, who is dark-skinned, sets up an after-school club. Later, Julie adds some give and take to their friendship by helping Stacey overcome her own reluctance to join the other children on the playground. Though views of the library seen through a faint golden haze flecked with stars go a little over the top (school librarians may disagree), Thomas fills the space with animated, bright-eyed young faces clustering intimately together over books and rendered in various shades beneath a range of hairstyles and head coverings. The author underscores the diversity of the cast by slipping scattered comments in Spanish, Wolof, and other languages into the dialogue and, after extolling throughout the power of books and stories to make new friends as well as open imaginations to new experiences and identities, brings all of her themes together in an afterword capped by an excellent list of recommended picture books. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A worthy message delivered with a generous dose of inclusivity. (Picture-book memoir. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-327185-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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