An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend.

MUHAMMAD ALI

A CHAMPION IS BORN

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali comes to life for young readers.

Close-up, in-your-face oil illustrations and a lively text design with plenty of onomatopoeia (“POW! POW! POW!”) and quotations from the champ give readers a sense of the life and style of the great Muhammad Ali. Action scenes from the famous bouts with Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Leon Spinks open the volume, which then goes back to a famous pivotal event in his life, when his bicycle is stolen and Cassius Clay (as was his name then) becomes determined to find the thief and “whup him.” The policeman on the scene, Officer Joe Martin, suggests that Cassius learn to fight. The story continues in gyms, following Cassius’ training days, abruptly jumping to a single page that wraps up his career and another that comments on Ali’s public persona. This is slight treatment given that 10 pages are devoted to the bike scene. However, framing the story with an opening painting of a lone heavy bag and closing with a deserted boxing ring is visually effective. A two-page endnote on Ali’s life offers plenty of details that might have been effectively incorporated into the story itself. As it is, readers may well be sufficiently tantalized to seek out other, more complete picture-book treatments.

An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend. (Picture book/biography. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243016-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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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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Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising...

FLASHLIGHT

A wordless picture book both soothing and gently humorous.

The cover displays the template that will appear throughout: black pages with stylized, silvery, moonlit flora and fauna, except where the flashlight’s glow shows the colors of objects as they appear in full-spectrum light. That triangular beam will reveal such things as a beaver in a pond, bats in the sky, mice munching on apples and a set of colorful Tibetan prayer flags suspended between two woodland trees. Although rendered in gouache, the art resembles a scratch painting, with myriad tiny plants and animals inscribed into the black background, starting with captivating endpapers. On the title page, an androgynous child in a tent lies propped on elbows, reading a book by flashlight. Because there is no text, the sets of double-page spreads that follow initially leave room for interpretation as to whether one child or two are next seen happily perusing the night woods, flashlight in hand. No matter; the important elements are the amazing details in the art, the funny twist at the end and the ability of the author-illustrator to create a dark night world utterly devoid of threat.

Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising moon over the course of one night in the forest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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