A visual feast that packs a punch.


From the El Toro & Friends series

Find out how El Toro and his friends became “¡un equipo maravilloso!”

The ragtag team of luchadores first meet as rambunctious kids—untrained and unfocused—heading to Ricky Ratón’s School of Lucha for one purpose: “to learn how to WRESTLE!” Under the tutelage of the muscular Ricky Ratón and his chicken sidekick, the real training for El Toro and his friends begins. The luchadores-in-training learn many, many skills, including acrobatics, discipline, and patience. Best of all, they each hone “their very own special move!” In a series of humorous panels that mimic a training montage, readers see the cast of anthropomorphized animals in action, with zany moves that seem to bounce off the page. Unitalicized words and phrases in Spanish pop up among the predominantly English text to echo certain lines and action words, providing translations that slip in with ease. After the stupendous training, a proud Ricky Ratón reveals one final surprise test: The young luchadores must beat their maestro in a battle. One by one, El Toro and his friends lose against their powerful teacher until the luchadores-in-training realize that teaming up brings its own rewards. Author/illustrator Raúl the Third and colorist Bay’s latest retains the series’ use of short, punchy sentences, kaleidoscopic artwork, and comic book–style panels and speech bubbles; this one is sure to be a can’t-miss read-aloud. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A visual feast that packs a punch. (Early reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-39471-6

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Versify/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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


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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