RAP A TAP TAP

HERE’S BOJANGLES--THINK OF THAT!

A tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson captures the rhythm of the famous tap dancing he did all over the city: in the street, behind doors that were both open and closed to him, in crowds, in upscale neighborhoods as well as “the skids,” in the park, and ultimately, on stage. Watercolor illustrations in sophisticated shades of tan, plum, aqua, mustard, olive, rust, black, and gray recall the pre-WWII era in which Robinson lived and danced. The stylized figures, shown mostly in profile without detailed features, are reminiscent of Synthia Saint James’s work and stand out cleanly against a bright white background. The contagious, joyful exhilaration of Bojangles’s dance is conveyed through shadowy legs surrounding his real ones, as if the rapt onlookers’ eyes could not keep up with his frenetic movement, as well as the rhyming text that begs to be read aloud and repeated. A note at the end explains who Bojangles was and includes fascinating information about his life and his talent, including the fact that no other dancer was ever able to repeat some of his more intricate steps. Spectacular, clear design includes spot varnish on the cover, highlighting the colorful type and figures against a matte white. This jazzy introduction to an important contributor to American culture will entrance the youngest music and dance fans. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-590-47883-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising...

FLASHLIGHT

A wordless picture book both soothing and gently humorous.

The cover displays the template that will appear throughout: black pages with stylized, silvery, moonlit flora and fauna, except where the flashlight’s glow shows the colors of objects as they appear in full-spectrum light. That triangular beam will reveal such things as a beaver in a pond, bats in the sky, mice munching on apples and a set of colorful Tibetan prayer flags suspended between two woodland trees. Although rendered in gouache, the art resembles a scratch painting, with myriad tiny plants and animals inscribed into the black background, starting with captivating endpapers. On the title page, an androgynous child in a tent lies propped on elbows, reading a book by flashlight. Because there is no text, the sets of double-page spreads that follow initially leave room for interpretation as to whether one child or two are next seen happily perusing the night woods, flashlight in hand. No matter; the important elements are the amazing details in the art, the funny twist at the end and the ability of the author-illustrator to create a dark night world utterly devoid of threat.

Contemplative children will spend hours on each page, noticing such subtleties as reappearing animals and the slowly rising moon over the course of one night in the forest. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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