A tender introduction to the discipline and community that running provides its athletes.

I AM DARN TOUGH

A runner’s high is an exhilarating mix of relief and tenacity.

Running is largely a solitary and quiet activity, combining muscle memory and mental strength. A race puts this book’s protagonist, who has light-brown skin and straight, black hair in a ponytail, together with other runners; all present female. She lines up at the start, runs at her own pace, and finishes strong. Her friends and teammates, a merry band of casually diverse girls, are supportive, yet the text understands that the girl’s race is hers alone. What Morelli and Diaz do remarkably well is show what the girl thinks about and sees with each step and how that fuels her to keep going and not give up. Diaz’s illustrations prove that anyone who runs has a runner’s body; the stereotypical vision of what a runner looks like is a misconception. In the middle of the book are two illustrations that leave lasting impressions: The first abruptly ends the soft images seen heretofore when the girl falls and scrapes her knee; a stark, almost aggressive smear of blood is rendered with sharp, jagged lines. In the second, the girl breaks the fourth wall and stares out at readers. Her gaze is so straightforward and penetrating that it’s almost startling, yet it feels simultaneously compelling, daring readers to look away first. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48.6% of actual size.)

A tender introduction to the discipline and community that running provides its athletes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-88448-780-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia.

BUNHEADS

A young ballerina takes on her first starring role.

Young Misty has just begun taking ballet when her teacher announces auditions for the classic ballet Coppélia. Misty listens spellbound as Miss Bradley tells the story of the toymaker who creates a doll so lifelike it threatens to steal a boy’s heart away from his betrothed, Swanilda. Paired with a kind classmate, Misty works hard to perfect the steps and wins the part she’s wanted all along: Swanilda. As the book closes, Misty and her fellow dancers take their triumphant opening-night bows. Written in third person, the narrative follows a linear structure, but the storyline lacks conflict and therefore urgency. It functions more as an introduction to Coppélia than anything else, despite the oddly chosen title. Even those unfamiliar with Copeland’s legendary status as the first black principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre will predict the trite ending. The illustrations are an attractive combination of warm brown, yellow, and rosy mahogany. However, this combination also obscures variations in skin tone, especially among Misty’s classmates. Misty and her mother are depicted with brown hair and brown skin; Miss Bradley has red hair and pale skin. Additionally, there’s a disappointing lack of body-type diversity; the dancers are depicted as uniformly skinny with extremely long limbs. The precise linework captures movement, yet the humanity of dance is missing. Many ballet steps are illustrated clearly, but some might confuse readers unfamiliar with ballet terminology. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 48% of actual size.)

A predictable ballet tale for die-hard Copeland fans or as an introduction to Coppélia. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54764-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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