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



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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Safe to creep on by.


Carle’s famous caterpillar expresses its love.

In three sentences that stretch out over most of the book’s 32 pages, the (here, at least) not-so-ravenous larva first describes the object of its love, then describes how that loved one makes it feel before concluding, “That’s why… / I[heart]U.” There is little original in either visual or textual content, much of it mined from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. “You are… / …so sweet,” proclaims the caterpillar as it crawls through the hole it’s munched in a strawberry; “…the cherry on my cake,” it says as it perches on the familiar square of chocolate cake; “…the apple of my eye,” it announces as it emerges from an apple. Images familiar from other works join the smiling sun that shone down on the caterpillar as it delivers assurances that “you make… / …the sun shine brighter / …the stars sparkle,” and so on. The book is small, only 7 inches high and 5 ¾ inches across when closed—probably not coincidentally about the size of a greeting card. While generations of children have grown up with the ravenous caterpillar, this collection of Carle imagery and platitudinous sentiment has little of his classic’s charm. The melding of Carle’s caterpillar with Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE on the book’s cover, alas, draws further attention to its derivative nature.

Safe to creep on by. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-448-48932-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2021

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.


Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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