A moving, grooving snapshot of urban life where kids create the fun and beckon everybody in.

A high-energy ode to double Dutch and summer days of fun.

It’s a sizzling morning, and when one freckle-faced, curly-haired, tan-skinned kid yells, “Jump in!” kids of every hue and size come running with balls, with jump-ropes, and with arms and legs ready for moving. When the “Double Dutch divas,” the Delancy twins, arrive to jump-rope, their long cornrows go flying as they “Jump over, jump under” and “spin ’round.” Next, long-legged basketballer Leroy Jones, with a frohawk and fiery moves, twirls a ball on one finger then jumps in with hip-hop acrobatics…until hip-swinging Ms. Mabel tosses Leroy her purse and exhausts the jump-rope turners with her “funky wiggle” and her cartwheel in the ropes. Lots of neighbors, including the reverend, join in, and the jumping joy permeates the day as Strickland’s free-verse poetry turns this tale into a singable jump-rope rhyme. When a skateboard-loving youngster finally joins in after homework’s all done, the child takes their dog and board into the ropes. Strickland’s innovative low-angle and bird’s-eye views and gatefolds that open in various directions give readers expansive vantage points for this day of participatory play, while her colorful and highly textured digitally rendered illustrations, inspired by the Italian futurists, effectively capture the heat, verve, and energy of the city. This city community is a diverse one; most of the named characters present as Black.

A moving, grooving snapshot of urban life where kids create the fun and beckon everybody in. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-61963-580-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022


Sadly, the storytelling runs aground.

A little red sleigh has big Christmas dreams.

Although the detailed, full-color art doesn’t anthropomorphize the protagonist (which readers will likely identify as a sled and not a sleigh), a close third-person text affords the object thoughts and feelings while assigning feminine pronouns. “She longed to become Santa’s big red sleigh,” reads an early line establishing the sleigh’s motivation to leave her Christmas-shop home for the North Pole. Other toys discourage her, but she perseveres despite creeping self-doubt. A train and truck help the sleigh along, and when she wishes she were big, fast, and powerful like them, they offer encouragement and counsel patience. When a storm descends after the sleigh strikes out on her own, an unnamed girl playing in the snow brings her to a group of children who all take turns riding the sleigh down a hill. When the girl brings her home, the sleigh is crestfallen she didn’t reach the North Pole. A convoluted happily-ever-after ending shows a note from Santa that thanks the sleigh for giving children joy and invites her to the North Pole next year. “At last she understood what she was meant to do. She would build her life up spreading joy, one child at a time.” Will she leave the girl’s house to be gifted to other children? Will she stay and somehow also reach ever more children? Readers will be left wondering. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 31.8% of actual size.)

Sadly, the storytelling runs aground. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-72822-355-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020


Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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