Ready the backpacks—this is sure to inspire many a family.

YES, LET'S

Tag along on a family’s hiking trip as they enjoy (mostly) the great outdoors and (almost always) each other.

Longstreth and Wicks have created an Everyfamily that most readers will be able to identify with, even if they have never been on a family hike. The language helps: Every sentence, save the final one, starts with "Let's," bringing readers into the adventure. Early one morning, four children tiptoe in to wake their parents (and dog) for a day of hiking through the woods to the river. As in reality, not everything goes perfectly; what matters are the interactions, and there are plenty as the family members enjoy swimming, playing games, building boats and dams, exploring, having lunch and pursuing their own interests. While the rhymes don’t always work (“cards” with “far”), Wicks’ illustrations are standouts. She captures the family’s every thought and feeling, from the teenage girl’s defiance over exchanging her pink flats for hiking boots to the mother’s horror at her youngest son’s hands at lunchtime. (The oddly applied noses may distract some, though.) The kids are nicely individuated: The oldest boy has his ever-present yo-yo, the youngest one is always losing or dropping something. But best of all are the small details. Not only are there endpaper checklists of animals, hiking gear and groceries to find, but very observant readers will notice a whole other subplot going on in the illustrations.

Ready the backpacks—this is sure to inspire many a family. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-933718-87-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tanglewood Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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