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IF by Rudyard Kipling


A Father’s Advice to His Son

by Rudyard Kipling & photographed by Jr. Smith

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: March 27th, 2007
ISBN: 0-689-87799-4
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Smith freshens the tired “sports as life” metaphor with a combination of eye-catching graphic design, compelling sports photography and Kipling’s classic inspirational poem. The cover is dramatic with vibrant colors, bold typeface and a shot of an upside-down pole-vaulter perpendicular to the bar. The line of that bar leads readers into the book and through double-page spreads that show a wide spectrum of athletic competitions. The juxtaposition of text and illustrations is clever and engaging—the importance of trusting yourself amidst a sea of doubters is visualized with a batter up to hit and his anxious teammates at the backstop; the virtue of patience is depicted with a sprinter posed at the starting line. The soft-focus, color photographs show the faces of athletes in shadows, or out of view, leaving room for adolescents to imagine themselves in the players’ places. There’s no source note for this very popular and widely parodied verse, but Smith’s personal afterword is approachable and thoughtful. (Picture book/poetry. 9-14)