Motivational and kind, these light poems and illustrations will embolden readers to take risks and “walk your own...

Lighthearted poems extol sport and human achievement—and the importance of losing.

Originally published in the Netherlands in 2013, van de Vendel’s 17 offbeat inspirational poems are handily translated into rhymed English verse by Australian children’s writer Colmer and accompanied by German illustrator Erlbruch’s expressively detailed digital renderings of familiar animals engaged in various human sports. Children will love Erlbruch’s zany depictions of dogs and pigs in swimsuits or a goose and a cat in racing and tennis togs, but what makes this collaboration shine is van de Vendel’s intense focus on the psychological effort central to playing sports and developing the resolve to accomplish goals in general. The delightful title poem talks about rooting for “you when you suddenly shine” as well as the “time you’re beaten”—not only “because this is my place, and I’m here to stay, / behind every finish and on every day,” but “because you must wait if you want to get great.” In “Here’s the Idea,” the speaker announces, “Today we’ll root for the losers. / Today we’ll cheer the other way round. / Today we’ll love everybody / whose somersault / never got off the ground,” promoting a similar message of steadfast support alongside a reality check.

Motivational and kind, these light poems and illustrations will embolden readers to take risks and “walk your own tightrope.” (Picture book/poetry. 5-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5501-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018


A sweet and endearing feathered migration.

A relationship between a Latina grandmother and her mixed-race granddaughter serves as the frame to depict the ruby-throated hummingbird migration pattern.

In Granny’s lap, a girl is encouraged to “keep still” as the intergenerational pair awaits the ruby-throated hummingbirds with bowls of water in their hands. But like the granddaughter, the tz’unun—“the word for hummingbird in several [Latin American] languages”—must soon fly north. Over the next several double-page spreads, readers follow the ruby-throated hummingbird’s migration pattern from Central America and Mexico through the United States all the way to Canada. Davies metaphorically reunites the granddaughter and grandmother when “a visitor from Granny’s garden” crosses paths with the girl in New York City. Ray provides delicately hashed lines in the illustrations that bring the hummingbirds’ erratic flight pattern to life as they travel north. The watercolor palette is injected with vibrancy by the addition of gold ink, mirroring the hummingbirds’ flashing feathers in the slants of light. The story is supplemented by notes on different pages with facts about the birds such as their nest size, diet, and flight schedule. In addition, a note about ruby-throated hummingbirds supplies readers with detailed information on how ornithologists study and keep track of these birds.

A sweet and endearing feathered migration. (bibliography, index) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0538-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019


Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40.

From two Nobel Peace Prize winners, an invitation to look past sadness and loneliness to the joy that surrounds us.

Bobbing in the wake of 2016’s heavyweight Book of Joy (2016), this brief but buoyant address to young readers offers an earnest insight: “If you just focus on the thing that is making / you sad, then the sadness is all you see. / But if you look around, you will / see that joy is everywhere.” López expands the simply delivered proposal in fresh and lyrical ways—beginning with paired scenes of the authors as solitary children growing up in very different circumstances on (as they put it) “opposite sides of the world,” then meeting as young friends bonded by streams of rainbow bunting and going on to share their exuberantly hued joy with a group of dancers diverse in terms of age, race, culture, and locale while urging readers to do the same. Though on the whole this comes off as a bit bland (the banter and hilarity that characterized the authors’ recorded interchanges are absent here) and their advice just to look away from the sad things may seem facile in view of what too many children are inescapably faced with, still, it’s hard to imagine anyone in the world more qualified to deliver such a message than these two. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Hundreds of pages of unbridled uplift boiled down to 40. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-48423-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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