The protagonist’s good cheer and determination will strike chords in like-minded readers

SIMONIE AND THE DANCE CONTEST

The community of Taloyoak, Nunavut, hosts an annual Christmas dance, and this year Simonie wants to compete.

Simonie loves to read, but he also loves to dance. When he reads a poster advertising an upcoming jigging dance contest, he asks his father for help; later, his mother offers more advice. Simonie practices his dance steps daily, but Ataata suggests that his son also add emotion to his performance: “You have to feel the movements in the music. They go together.” At school, he asks his friend Dana to partner with him, and together they practice, but though his dancing improves, Simonie still doesn’t understand how to feel the music. At the hockey arena, Simonie catches up with another friend, David, who has won competitions before and asks his advice. “I just dance the way the music feels,” says David. Aha! On the day of the contest, Anaana reminds her son, “Whatever’s in your heart, express it!” Simonie is ready to do his best. Matthews’ simple text presents a likable character in Simonie, and his determination to succeed should inspire young readers to persevere when learning any new skill. Hinch’s lively cartoon illustrations portray the Inuit characters as modern upper-elementary-age students who are also actively involved in their families’ cultural traditions.

The protagonist’s good cheer and determination will strike chords in like-minded readers . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77227-224-6

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach.

THE GREAT BIG POOP PARTY

The you-know-what hits the fan after a lad’s parents rashly allow him to pick a theme for his birthday party.

Julian insists, and so after the party store poops out, everyone sets to cranking out homemade poop-up invitations, “poopsicles” and “lollypoops,” costumes, and games like “Pin-the-Poop-on-the-Toilet.” But will anyone drop in? Do they ever—in such massive streams that even the local news team catches wind of the event. Better yet, dancing the “Doo-Doo Doo-op” to tunes from the Dookie-Poo band and whacking the poop piñata, everyone has a blast. The party assumes such legendary status that news of it spreads around the world, prompting Julian and his family to create a graphic instruction manual together. Galán goes to town with swirling scenes in saturated hues with lots of brown, featuring hyped-up figures with wide eyes and huge grins. Julian’s family appears to be an interracial one, with an Asian-presenting dad and White-presenting mom whose attitudes modulate from disgust to delight over the course of the story. Readers inspired to organize poop parties of their own will find models for suitable decorations in the pictures. A caveat: The recipe for poop slime that Berger applies to the tail end uses glue and baby oil, among other ingredients, but is not labeled as inedible. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 65% of actual size.)

Sure to be poopular with party planners, particularly those with strong stomachs and a hands-on approach. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-23787-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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