WHEN LOUIS ARMSTRONG TAUGHT ME SCAT

This ebullient tribute to Armstrong as scat innovator opens with a girl and her mom dancing to Satchmo’s scatting on the radio. Scat singing inspires the young narrator, who dreams of Armstrong, inviting her to improvise on—what? “ ‘How about bubble gum?’/ ‘Sure, bubble gum’s hip.’ ” Six ensuing spreads crank out scat-influenced verse that, after establishing the tempo (“Chew-itee / Chew-itee / Chew-itee / CHOP / Crackity / Snappity / Poppity! / POP!!!”), tangles it in anapestic jungle metaphor (“…lilac moon / butterfly’s cocoon / baboon’s nose / hippo’s toes”). Departing the dream’s careening visual and textual imagery, the girl floats back to wakefulness (having blown a bubble as big as a “hot air balloon” with cacophonic results). Enthusiastic, infectious neighborhood scatting ensues. Christie’s gorgeous full-bleed pictures blend touching detail (Armstrong’s scarred lips, the girl’s fuzzy bedroom slippers) with swaths of vibrant, opaque color. Three typefaces, alternating upper- and lower-case, match the verve of the agreeably frenetic text. One quibble: In an appended note on scat, Weinstein unequivocally states, “…before Louis Armstrong, no one sang it professionally.” Jazz scholars might disagree. (biographical note) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8118-5131-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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

JABARI JUMPS

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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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.

NAUGHTY NINJA TAKES A BATH

After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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