The stars shine brightly for a boy who knows he is destined to twinkle and sparkle.
Dylan is one exuberant boy who is certain of his destiny: He will be “The Star” (literally) in the starring role of his school play about the solar system. He is well-trained in dance, song, and mime (with nods to Gypsy and Reba McIntyre) and quite comfortable with his talent. Alas, his teacher is assigning the roles, and Dylan is to play the role of the “SQUIRREL?!” Utter despair ensues even as the other students rejoice in their parts as objects in outer space. But then Dylan runs into the kid playing the role of Saturn, who is clearly unhappy with having to perform at all but convinces Dylan that the role of the squirrel is “the best part of the show!” After all, how many squirrels have ventured into space? Dylan interviews the local squirrels and is determined, thereafter, to be the “first squirrel-stronaut” ever. Yes, it is finally stardom. Edwards’ little tale of a stage-struck boy may resonate with other wannabe performers and should entertain even those who prefer sitting in the audience. Ebbeler’s bright and colorful illustrations fill the pages with action, their slight exaggerations appropriately histrionic, while leaving room for large speech bubbles for the characters’ dialogue. Dylan presents white, and his classmates are a diverse mix.
School-age dreams of acting can come true.
(Picture book. 4-7)
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)
Perseverance and determination help a little girl take part in her school’s ballet performance.
Lena, who has short, straight brown hair and wears a school uniform, is so very excited to be dancing in a student recital. She will join the others as a daffodil. Unfortunately, material for the costume is hard to find in her town, and Lena has outgrown last year’s. There are lines at the stores for everything, including milk. Happily, she and her mother do find the almost right fabric, but all the white ballet slippers are sold out. Lena is upset, but with a little help from her unsuspecting father, who is a painter, she comes up with a perfect if not long-lasting solution. The performance wows the audience. Hobai, debuting as an author, grew up in Romania and has set her little story in an unnamed country with strict rules, often bare shelves, and a seemingly all-white citizenry. Her ink, watercolor, and acrylic illustrations deftly convey Lena’s many facial expressions, from worry to joy, and their fluid lines are the right touch to portray little dancers. Adults sharing this book with children may need to provide a little background information about Communist-era Eastern Europe, but many children today will understand the economic hardships faced regardless.
Ballet lovers will feel a strong kinship with this aspiring ballerina.
(author’s note, photograph)
(Picture book. 4-7)