Hit or miss, but the Black princess is definitely great to see.

THE RAPPING PRINCESS

From the creators of My Hair (2019) comes a tale about a princess who finds her voice.

Shiloh lives in a “grand house” in her kingdom, and she has a tough problem: “You see, every princess in the kingdom could sing. / Yet Shiloh’s voice could do no such thing.” The doctor can’t help her. The top vocal coach thinks she’s hopeless. One day, she passes by some visiting princes making beats and rapping, and she wants to try it too. She jumps right in with her own rhymes, awing the princes with her talent. Shiloh is still sad about her voice and keeps trying to find a remedy to her lack of singing talent. But when her mirror speaks back to her, telling her to follow her passion—rapping—Shiloh realizes that she does have talent, and she finally embraces and celebrates what her voice can do. In colorful, textured illustrations that combine European-esque, fairy-tale castles with an otherwise African-inspired aesthetic, Shiloh’s kingdom appears to exist outside of time: Diverse Black royalty use both futuristic and old-fashioned transportation, for instance. The text is composed in rhyming lyrics, which readers may stumble over when reading aloud, as the cadence and rhythm are inconsistent and unclear. True hip-hop heads may balk at this simplistic presentation of rap divorced from its roots as social commentary, but many children will enjoy this energetic fable and the unique cultural style on its pages.

Hit or miss, but the Black princess is definitely great to see. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-571-36114-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Faber & Faber

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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