Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging.



From the Somos Ocho series

The energetic adventures of a princess who can’t stay in place.

When the newborn princess Jill is introduced to a joyous, unnamed kingdom, it’s all cheers and happiness. But then the king and queen discover that their child can’t be contained, forever bounding and twirling across throne rooms and kitchens and gardens. It’s amusingly conveyed in two-page spreads on which the tiny Jill’s paths are marked in heavy red crayon over sprightly cartoons. The various experts of the land—witches, warlocks, wise men—make their diagnoses (“Your Highnesses, Princess Jill has a case of I-can’t-keep-my-bottom-still”) and prescribe a series of ineffective treatments. What finally solves the dilemma is the introduction of another royal from a different kingdom, a boy named Pablo who is also perpetually bouncing up to the chandeliers, just like Jill. Unfortunately, the story abruptly ends there, leaving readers without much to hold onto other than the idea that Jill’s acrobatics are acceptable so long as someone else of importance does the same thing. Also worth noting: Jill never actually speaks; she’s only spoken about by other characters concerned about her actions. It’s a muddled message (or lack thereof) in an otherwise quick-moving jaunt. The Spanish-language original suffers the same issues but under a different name: Jill is Sara in that version, which is titled, La princesa Sara no para (literally, “The princess Sara doesn’t stop”). All characters present white.

Energetic visuals and tight text—but more exhausting than engaging. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-84-17123-83-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.


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)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.


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

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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