Turning the tables shines the light on poor sportsmanship. Will Fergus and Lowery next address bad behavior in the...

THE DAY DAD JOINED MY SOCCER TEAM

Dad is schooled about more than soccer the day he “volunteers” to help out his child’s team.

In this role-reversal book, the unnamed first-person narrator, an avid soccer player, is mortified by the sudden change in Dad’s behavior after he dons a jersey and assumes a position on the field. In fact, Dad exhibits all the bad behaviors: whining to the coach, focusing on winning at all costs, picking flowers on the field, fooling around on the sideline, running off to play on the slides, hogging the ball, grumping when the team’s goalie misses a save, and throwing a fit about an accidental foul. The narrator consults Coach, a dark-skinned bald man, who has some words of wisdom, encouraging them to work with Dad’s energy and enthusiasm to focus on being a good sport (a clipboard lists the four points for readers). Remarkably, the father turns his act around in the second half but in the end decides that volunteering for snacks may be more his speed. Lowery’s Photoshop illustrations are filled with bright, flat colors spotlighting the father’s hijinks and the characters’ emotions. Both dad and child have brown hair and light brown skin. The other players are diverse in terms of both race and gender presentation.

Turning the tables shines the light on poor sportsmanship. Will Fergus and Lowery next address bad behavior in the bleachers? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77138-654-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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Sincere and wholehearted.

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I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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