NOT JUST TUTUS

Isadora (Peekaboo Morning, 2002, etc.) calls on her experience as a professional ballet dancer in this lighthearted look at the backstage world of a children’s ballet school. She divides her text into two sections: “Dreams and Practice” and “Makeup and Lights,” with each page containing two rhyming couplets and a related illustration, all printed on attractive beige paper. Young children (both boys and girls, age six to nine) who are fairly experienced dancers are shown dreaming about ballet, going to class, stretching, learning new movements, and then preparing backstage and performing. They also experience some of the difficulties of the dance world: body image, costumes that don’t fit, not being able to eat or drink while backstage, stage fright, and sore feet. Some adult readers will note that several of the children shown dancing in pointe shoes are clearly too young to be dancing on pointe, reinforcing that unrealistic expectation of little girls who can’t wait to be dancing on their toes. Isadora’s delicate watercolor-and-ink illustrations have the polish of a practiced professional, effectively showing the little dancers in motion or at rest. Her rhymes are sometimes funny or charming, but often don’t scan well or contain word pairs that really don’t rhyme (“sore” and “sure”). The illustrations dance, but the text remains pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23603-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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EQUAL SHMEQUAL

Forest animals learn the many meanings of “equal” through a game of tug-of-war. Mouse initiates the game with Bear, but then realizes that he forgot the important rule of equal teams. As more animals join in, they debate about how to divide evenly and test their ideas. Meat versus plant eaters doesn’t work, nor does furry versus not furry or even halves, since they are different sizes. Bear’s response to it all? “Equal Shmequal.” Gradually the animals learn that just because the numbers are equal does not mean the teams are equal. Mouse’s solution is to equalize the weights, using a seesaw to balance the teams. When Bear and Mouse pull against Turtle, Rabbit, Bobcat, Wolf and Deer, neither side moves—until Bear gets distracted. Moral: “What really matters is equal effort.” A final note tells readers “what it means to be equal” in math, art, law and team sports. Detailed watercolor illustrations clearly show readers what is equal and what is not, especially as the animals fail at their early efforts. A cute look at what can be a difficult concept. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-57091-891-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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