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Quibbles aside, an inspirational and reasonably realistic representation of the sporting world.

This easily read poetry collection represents a broad array of sports and games.

Simple rhymes and a consistent, well-paced rhythm read aloud well. Just about every sport is included, expanding from the titular activities to swimming, figure skating, ice hockey, karate, bicycling, gymnastics, tennis, and even lacrosse. Simple, flat paintings done in ink and watercolor present a diverse cast, featuring a variety of skin tones and hair textures (though no religiously specific garb), with all faces drawn with dots for eyes and simple lines denoting noses and mouths. Most of the poems reflect on the movements or goal of each sport without mentioning its name so that readers will make inferences from both the verse and the illustrations. For example, the poem about basketball is titled “Swish!” and it begins: “I dribble, / I run fast down court, / Although my legs are very short.” A foreshortened basketball about to enter the hoop is shown from the top of the net from a perspective that looks down on the player-filled court. This approach works well enough, but it does presuppose familiarity with all the sports in question. Caregivers unfamiliar with lacrosse, for instance, may not be able to help youngsters understand exactly what’s going on with “Teammates.” All sports are depicted with both male and female participants (judging from attire and hairstyle).

Quibbles aside, an inspirational and reasonably realistic representation of the sporting world. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62779-349-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses.

An NBA star pays tribute to the influence of his grandfather.

In the same vein as his Long Shot (2009), illustrated by Frank Morrison, this latest from Paul prioritizes values and character: “My granddad Papa Chilly had dreams that came true,” he writes, “so maybe if I listen and watch him, / mine will too.” So it is that the wide-eyed Black child in the simply drawn illustrations rises early to get to the playground hoops before anyone else, watches his elder working hard and respecting others, hears him cheering along with the rest of the family from the stands during games, and recalls in a prose afterword that his grandfather wasn’t one to lecture but taught by example. Paul mentions in both the text and the backmatter that Papa Chilly was the first African American to own a service station in North Carolina (his presumed dream) but not that he was killed in a robbery, which has the effect of keeping the overall tone positive and the instructional content one-dimensional. Figures in the pictures are mostly dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Blandly inspirational fare made to evoke equally shrink-wrapped responses. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-81003-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Blandly laudatory.

The iconic animator introduces young readers to each “happy place” in his life.

The tally begins with his childhood home in Marceline, Missouri, and climaxes with Disneyland (carefully designed to be “the happiest place on Earth”), but the account really centers on finding his true happy place, not on a map but in drawing. In sketching out his early flubs and later rocket to the top, the fictive narrator gives Ub Iwerks and other Disney studio workers a nod (leaving his labor disputes with them unmentioned) and squeezes in quick references to his animated films, from Steamboat Willie to Winnie the Pooh (sans Fantasia and Song of the South). Eliopoulos incorporates stills from the films into his cartoon illustrations and, characteristically for this series, depicts Disney as a caricature, trademark mustache in place on outsized head even in childhood years and child sized even as an adult. Human figures default to white, with occasional people of color in crowd scenes and (ahistorically) in the animation studio. One unidentified animator builds up the role-modeling with an observation that Walt and Mickey were really the same (“Both fearless; both resourceful”). An assertion toward the end—“So when do you stop being a child? When you stop dreaming”—muddles the overall follow-your-bliss message. A timeline to the EPCOT Center’s 1982 opening offers photos of the man with select associates, rodent and otherwise. An additional series entry, I Am Marie Curie, publishes simultaneously, featuring a gowned, toddler-sized version of the groundbreaking physicist accepting her two Nobel prizes.

Blandly laudatory. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2875-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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