Wells has illustrated excerpts from well-known songs from Oklahoma, The King and I, Carousel, and South Pacific. In the thick and vibrant colors and large, square format, readers will recognize from My Very First Mother Goose (1996) and Here Comes Mother Goose (1999), her bunnies, guinea pigs, and bison cavort, cuddle, and dance across the pages to Hammerstein’s lyrics. A songbook in a back pocket provides Rodgers’s music (a single line of melody, for vocals). Usually the selection is a single verse, and works perfectly for songs like “Oh! What a Beautiful Morning,” “Oklahoma,” and “Shall We Dance.” However, in too many others, the magic of the music is destroyed in the alteration. “I Whistle a Happy Tune” has lost an entire line, ruining its symmetry. Extremely short versions of “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair” and “Some Enchanted Evening” are confusingly abrupt. And tragically, the last segment of “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” rushes to its conclusion: the magically thrice repeated “Don’t you wish’t you’d go on ferever” is written only once on the page. The result is a tune that simply doesn’t work—how does one sing that? Supposedly, these were very deliberate design decisions, and in all other aspects, this is a lovely book—Wells’s warm lines match the mood of the songs perfectly. Families who know these songs might enjoy singing with this as long as they can deal with the missing lyrics. Those unfamiliar with the songs will find the flaws jolting and unsatisfactory. The songbook in the back pocket and serious flaws make this a questionable purchase for libraries. (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-027925-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.


Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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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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