A boy waits with increasing trepidation for his turn in the class talent show in this cumulative story.
He’s diligently practiced his song “a billion times” and wears his “lucky blue boots” and pants “with cool pockets.” (Blackall’s appealing illustrations cleverly incorporate flaps: Kids can check out the teeming contents of one of those pockets.) As, in succession, Chloe reads her poem, Henry walks on his hands, Georgia dances on her toes, Leo juggles, and Madeleine shows off her paintings, the young narrator grows ever more discombobulated, seeming to disappear into his yellow-striped sweater. He begins mixing up words: “On the talent of the morning show, I was ready to song my sing.” Uncertain as his turn arrives, he gets up and sits down repeatedly. Five double-page spreads depict his imagination’s chaotic fantasy, as he mentally mixes up talent-show props and activities and begins “walking my poem” and “dancing my hands.” Blackall clearly separates the realistic and fantasy elements—for the latter, she gives the boy blue pants and khaki-colored boots with pockets. When he finally manages to sing his song, “[t]wo boys booed. / But all the other kids were clapping!” The multiethnic classroom is adeptly managed by a sanguine teacher who keeps those two impish boys close by.
Viorst ably returns to the familiar trope of vanquishing childhood fears, nicely abetted by the talented Blackall. (Picture book. 4-7)