Readers will cheer for Zayd and look forward to the next volume.

READ REVIEW

POWER FORWARD

From the Zayd Saleem, Chasing the Dream series , Vol. 1

Fourth-grader Zayd has the passion to make the gold basketball team, but his latest obstacle might make him miss the upcoming tryouts.

Zayd has one goal: to improve his basketball skills in time for the tryouts. His small size is not on his side, but his Pakistani-American family is loving and supportive (with the exception of his annoying older sister), and his best friend is encouraging. Zayd also plays violin in the school orchestra, a commitment of time and money that his parents do not take lightly. When Zayd decides that his rehearsal time would be better spent practicing basketball, two weeks of sneaking about are followed by a harsh punishment when he is discovered: He is not allowed to play, watch, read, or talk about basketball for two weeks—which means no tryouts at all. Will Zayd find a way to achieve his dream? Zayd is a sympathetic protagonist, and his story is told with humor and artfully filled with interesting cultural matter, from his grandmother’s television shows and his grandfather’s games to the family-powered courtship process his uncle goes through. The family dynamics are refreshingly portrayed: Money is a concern; parents are firm though loving; and each generation has a unique perspective. The moral of staying true to yourself and honest with others is easily digested.

Readers will cheer for Zayd and look forward to the next volume. (Fiction. 6-11)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1198-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

WAYS TO MAKE SUNSHINE

Ryan Hart is navigating the fourth grade and all its challenges with determination.

Her mom named her Ryan because it means “king,” and she wanted Ryan to feel powerful every time she heard her name; Ryan knows it means she is a leader. So when changes occur or disaster strikes, budding chef Ryan does her best to find the positive and “make sunshine.” When her dad is laid off from the post office, the family must make adjustments that include moving into a smaller house, selling their car, and changing how they shop for groceries. But Ryan gets to stay at Vernon Elementary, and her mom still finds a way to get her the ingredients she needs to practice new recipes. Her older brother, Ray, can be bossy, but he finds little ways to support her, especially when she is down—as does the whole family. Each episodic chapter confronts Ryan with a situation; intermittently funny, frustrating, and touching, they should be familiar and accessible to readers, as when Ryan fumbles her Easter speech despite careful practice. Ryan, her family, and friends are black, and Watson continues to bring visibility to both Portland, Oregon, generally and its black community specifically, making another wonderful contribution that allows black readers to see themselves and all readers to find a character they can love.

Move over Ramona Quimby, Portland has another neighbor you have to meet! (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0056-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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