At least one fan’s dreams will be of the gridiron.



From the Sports Illustrated for Kids series

The excitement of a family’s trip to a football game segues into a Goodnight Moon–like list of goodnights, ending with the young boy in bed, asleep, football tucked under his arm.

At the end of the week, an African-American couple and their two children—a boy and a girl—enjoy a night at the stadium under the lights. The coats, hats and scarves worn by this group of racially diverse fans and the blankets and hot drinks they hold mark football as a fall sport. All the sights and sounds of a big game are here, from the cheerleaders and the band to the mascot and the concession stand. The parts of the story describing the action of the game are exciting, but they may be mystifying to those who are unfamiliar with the sport: “On third and one, the ball is snapped. / But the defense breaks through, and the quarterback’s sacked!” As their Grizzlies win the game, the boy and his family begin the trek out to the car, saying goodnight to all as they pass: the players and coaches, bleachers, fans, goalposts, even the moon. Much is evident from the small details: the family’s love for one another, the good sportsmanship on display on the field and the boy’s passion for football. Although the scansion is spotty and the illustrations pedestrian, there are so few football-themed picture books on the shelves already that this is worth a look.

At least one fan’s dreams will be of the gridiron. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62370-106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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 snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.


Four woodland animal friends put on a show.

Rabbit, Squirrel, and aptly named Other Squirrel (who has slightly redder fur than Squirrel) are a flurry of activity. They are going to put on a show. “A BIG show.…The BEST show!” It will have hats (tall ones), tickets (shiny ones), and a curtain (red—no, green). There are many decisions to be made. Bear, however, does not want to be part of it. He is too shy. He would prefer to be the note taker. Rabbit, Squirrel, and Other Squirrel fire off ideas, amending one another’s at furious speed, and Bear writes them all down. Scribbles appear in the white space surrounding the boulderlike ursine’s head. The ideas pile up; debut illustrator Todd deftly covers an entire page while Bear hunches in the middle, furiously writing. He hums a tune to keep himself calm. On the night of the performance, everything seems ready. Everything except…the show! They were so bogged down with the details, no one figured out what the show would be. The title gives away the ending from the very start, but Bear’s pluck is nevertheless laudable. Petty’s comedic quips are echoed in the frenzied art, with Bear looming large yet timid to ground it all. Limited, skilled use of panels helps to control the pacing.

A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3747-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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