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An inspiring, positive tale that exemplifies staying true to yourself.

Awards & Accolades

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A boy pursues his love for dance despite bullies in Sanders’ picture book.

Prince, a 7-year-old boy, struggles to find his passion, particularly when compared to his popular and athletic brother, Andrew. Despite Andrew’s encouragement, Prince, who is Black, feels disheartened that “his body didn’t want to cooperate and do the things Andrew instructed.” When Mom takes the family to see the ballet at Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Prince is captivated and soon enrolls in a ballet class. The only boy there, he adores class and excels at the steps. The teacher, Miss Adriana, says, “He is destined to be a dancer!” The boy’s talent shines, and he becomes familiar with the “French words and the beautiful movements.” However, school bullies ridicule him for being a dancer. Prince’s mom says, “Trust in yourself, and never let what anyone says stop you from doing the things that you love.” She also suggests that Prince practice standing up for himself by talking to his pet hamster, Popcorn. When Prince nervously notices school staff and students in the audience at a performance at the mall, he reminds himself of his mom’s words and pushes on. Prince is shocked when his gym teacher, Coach L., praises his dancing and asks him to demonstrate moves in class. His diverse schoolmates, including Black and White students, cheer Prince and enjoy listening to his stories about “his adventures in dance.” Prince realizes he “didn’t need to play football or baseball to be a hero at school. He just had to find what he was good at.” Prince is a likable, relatable protagonist whose authenticity and determination are admirable. His dedication to ballet may inspire readers to discover their own passions and persevere through their own challenges. Ditya’s colorful digital illustrations offer fun, animated scenes of Prince’s journey, like “wearing his grown-up clothes” to the ballet and performing on stage. Readers will particularly enjoy Popcorn’s appearance, as when Prince imagines the critter wearing a tutu.

An inspiring, positive tale that exemplifies staying true to yourself.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63661-428-1

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Dorrance Publishing Co.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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From the Izzy Gizmo series

A disappointing follow-up.

Inventor Izzy Gizmo is back in this sequel to her eponymous debut (2017).

While busily inventing one day, Izzy receives an invitation from the Genius Guild to their annual convention. Though Izzy’s “inventions…don’t always work,” Grandpa (apparently her sole caregiver) encourages her to go. The next day they undertake a long journey “over fields, hills, and waves” and “mile after mile” to isolated Technoff Isle. There, Izzy finds she must compete against four other kids to create the most impressive machine. The colorful, detail-rich illustrations chronicle how poor Izzy is thwarted at every turn by Abi von Lavish, a Veruca Salt–esque character who takes all the supplies for herself. But when Abi abandons her project, Izzy salvages the pieces and decides to take Grandpa’s advice to create a machine that “can really be put to good use.” A frustrated Izzy’s impatience with a friend almost foils her chance at the prize, but all’s well that ends well. There’s much to like: Brown-skinned inventor girl Izzy is an appealing character, it’s great to see a nurturing brown-skinned male caregiver, the idea of an “Invention Convention” is fun, and a sustainable-energy invention is laudable. However, these elements don’t make up for rhymes that often feel forced and a lackluster story.

A disappointing follow-up. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68263-164-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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