HUNTER & STRIPE & THE SOCCER SHOWDOWN

“Winning isn’t everything,” coach Vince Lombardi famously said, “it’s the only thing.” Or is it? Elliott’s story appreciates that “how you play the game” provides the crucial balance, not to mention the art and sustenance of the athlete, when one team necessarily has to lose. Raccoon mates Hunter and Stripe are back, and this time they find themselves on opposing sides in a game between their unbeaten teams. The competitive drive rears its head and they have a minor falling out. Hunter’s sister provides some insight: “Sports should celebrate the amazing things we can do—no matter who wins.” Hunter is mystified—it’s a big step to take—but he takes it, along with Stripe, when they witness their fathers, as coaches of their respective teams, being over-competitive goofballs. Elliott neatly separates pleasure from instinct, while Munsinger’s stumpy, zealous characters add the right degree of empathy and laughs. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-052759-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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A lovely, empowering book about having the courage to express one’s individuality.

JOHN'S TURN

A young White boy shares his secret talent with his classmates for the first time.

An unnamed, unidentified narrator, clearly one of the titular protagonist’s schoolmates, explains that every week at Friday Assembly, one student gets to perform for the whole school, an activity called “Sharing Gifts.” Once, Tina played her tuba; another time, Jessie did some magic; Carol delivered a stand-up routine. Now it’s John’s turn, and boy does he look nervous. In short, declarative sentences the text describes John’s preparations for his act. Once on stage, he hesitates as some kids laugh at the musical track accompanying his performance—“strings, violins and things, and then maybe flutes”—then it’s showtime. A succession of wordless, double-page spreads uses continuous narration to showcase the various poses and steps of John’s glorious ballet recital. His facial expression and body language morph as fear gives way to a joyful sense of accomplishment. Young readers will love John’s classmates’ reactions at the ending. Berube’s simple ink-and-paint illustrations have minimal background details, allowing readers to focus squarely on John and his emotions. It is truly wonderful to see a boy character in a children’s book so enthusiastic about, and accomplished at, ballet. Any child, though, who has a talent to share or struggles with performance anxiety will find a role model in John. The children are nicely diverse racially. Their teachers present White.

A lovely, empowering book about having the courage to express one’s individuality. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0395-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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TACKY AND THE WINTER GAMES

Lester’s Tacky is tacky, though he is even more a Society of Oddfellows unto himself, a pleasing misfit among his righteous penguin cohort of Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly and Perfect. Tacky is joyously oblivious of their rectitude as they prepare for the penguin Winter Games, pumping iron and skipping rope as Tacky catches a few zzz’s and equips his exer-cycle with a horn and tassels, chows pizza and donuts as the others dutifully swallow their spinach (and Munsinger is perfect here, easily capturing both sniffyness and unbridled appetite). Tacky unintentionally subverts the rules of the Games, winning but losing as officials disqualify his unorthodox stratagems. Finally, his team grabs a victory despite the fact that Tacky ate the baton. A citizen of the deep cold, it’s another Frost that Tacky emulates, the one who recommends the road not taken. Tacky, the clueless role model, takes it all the time. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-55659-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005

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