A solid reminder of music’s power and a good primer on Puerto Rican dance culture.

WHEN JULIA DANCED BOMBA / CUANDO JULIA BAILABA BOMBA

Afro–Puerto Rican dance traditions are celebrated through one girl’s breakthrough moment with bomba.

Julia is not thrilled to be practicing dance at the cultural center after she’s dragged along by her brother Cheíto, who is adept at drumming on barriles to make music for the bomba dance. “Julia didn’t want to practice dancing. She preferred to play make believe. Julia loved to daydream about becoming an astronaut.” After she watches an older dancer and tries her own clumsy steps, Julia is ready to give up. But when she’s invited to participate in bombazo, an opportunity for dancers to perform solos as everybody sings, she finds her nervousness transformed to joy as she locks in with the main drum. “TAN, rang out the drum again, loud and clear. ‘Wow,’ Julia thought, ‘the drum is talking to me!’ ” Readers won’t learn much about Julia, her brother, or other dancers in the story, but what Ortiz elucidates in the text and de Vita conveys in motion-filled illustrations and close-ups on drums is how music can break through one’s defenses and take over. The way Julia’s expressions change and her movements go from stiff and frustrated to unencumbered works. Throughout the book, English and Spanish versions of the text are featured, including lyrics from the music from Julia’s solo performance. A pagelong explanation of bomba celebrations and a brief glossary round out the package.

A solid reminder of music’s power and a good primer on Puerto Rican dance culture. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-55885-886-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1.

LITTLE SHAQ TAKES A CHANCE

From the Little Shaq series , Vol. 2

A fictionalized young Shaquille O'Neal returns for a second illustrated story about life beyond the basketball court.

Little Shaq and his cousin Barry come home from the rec center giddy about Little Shaq's first three-point shot but are greeted with another surprise. For the first time, Little Shaq's mom has made sushi for a family dinner. Barry and the others dig in, but Little Shaq's curiosity about sushi only hits him after the last roll is gone. Little Shaq's joy and confidence on the court—best expressed when Little Shaq exuberantly tosses a postgame grape into Barry's mouth ("Three points!")—contrast strongly with his unease trying new foods or activities. A large part of the book concerns a school art project, and Little Shaq's frustration is made poignantly clear through both illustration and description ("Little Shaq crumpled up his drawing and marched back to the supply tables"). Throughout, the love among Little Shaq's family members shines through in their interactions, and the story delivers a message without triteness. Taylor’s full-color illustrations break up text on almost every page, adding warmth and energy. (Final art not seen.)

A solid sequel, easily accessible to readers who missed Volume 1. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61963-844-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves.

THE THREE NINJA PIGS

"Dedication and practice pay off," is the message these three pigs painlessly deliver.

“Once upon a dangerous time,” a wolf plagued a town with his huffing and puffing, so three pigs—two hogs and a sow—attend Ninja School to learn how to face him. Each studies a different martial art, but the two brothers quickly lose interest; the third pig alone earns all her belts. So when the wolf comes calling, it’s no surprise when the brothers’ skills are not equal to the task. “The chase carried on to their sister’s. / Pig Three was outside in her gi. / ‘I’m a certified weapon, / so watch where you’re steppin’. / You don’t want to start up with me!’ ” A demonstration of her prowess is enough to send the wolf packing and the brothers back to their training. Schwartz’s sophomore outing is a standout among fractured fairy tales, masterfully combining rollicking limerick verse with a solid story, neither a slave to the other. The one quibble is the “Ninja” of the title—these pigs study the martial arts of aikido, jujitsu and karate. Santat’s illustrations are done with Sumi brush on rice paper and finished in Photoshop. The colors, patterns and themes nicely incorporate those of Japanese art, and the setting, with its background mountains, cherry blossoms and traditional rooftops, is firmly Japanese.

Have the contact info for the local dojo handy—readers will want to try out these martial-arts styles for themselves. (glossary) (Fractured fairy tale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25514-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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