McAnulty and Hocking score again.


From the Max Explains Everything series

Max is happy to share his expertise about the most popular sport on the planet: soccer. He claims to know a lot…but does he really?

Max has been playing soccer for three weeks now; he is a self-proclaimed expert, eager to share his knowledge. Max sure seems to know a lot about the game: the right equipment to use, the warm-up routines, the huddles with the coach and teammates, the referees….Yet he also has a propensity to be sidetracked by everything else happening on and around the pitch: the dandelions and four-leaf clovers growing on the field, the ladybugs and worms wandering in the grass, the fans taking pictures; even the clouds in the sky distract him from the most important part of the game for a soccer player: kicking the ball and scoring goals. His teammates are desperate for him to join in the action: “Kick the ball, Max”; “Max, the ball”; “THE BALL, MAX!” Will all the encouragements work? For Max however, it doesn’t really matter: Soccer is all about having fun and meeting new friends. In this second in the Max Explains Everything series, McAnulty reteams with Hocking, together creating a congenial character whose inattention is largely redeemed by the palpable enthusiasm and passion he shows for soccer and the smile he sports throughout the game. Lively illustrations on two-page spreads do justice to a simple, funny, and exciting story, depicting the reality that Max’s narration elides. Max’s team has players who present both male and female; curly-haired, light-brown–skinned Max, though gendered male on the jacket flap, narrates the text without pronouns, allowing multiple interpretations.

McAnulty and Hocking score again. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-101-99640-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat.


Dinos that love to move and groove get children counting from one to 10—and perhaps moving to the beat.

Beginning with a solo bop by a female dino (she has eyelashes, doncha know), the dinosaur dance party begins. Each turn of the page adds another dino and a change in the dance genre: waltz, country line dancing, disco, limbo, square dancing, hip-hop, and swing. As the party would be incomplete without the moonwalk, the T. Rex does the honors…and once they are beyond their initial panic at his appearance, the onlookers cheer wildly. The repeated refrain on each spread allows for audience participation, though it doesn’t easily trip off the tongue: “They hear a swish. / What’s this? / One more? / One more dino on the floor.” Some of the prehistoric beasts are easily identifiable—pterodactyl, ankylosaurus, triceratops—but others will be known only to the dino-obsessed; none are identified, other than T-Rex. Packed spreads filled with psychedelically colored dinos sporting blocks of color, stripes, or polka dots (and infectious looks of joy) make identification even more difficult, to say nothing of counting them. Indeed, this fails as a counting primer: there are extra animals (and sometimes a grumpy T-Rex) in the backgrounds, and the next dino to join the party pokes its head into the frame on the page before. Besides all that, most kids won’t get the dance references.

It’s a bit hard to dance, or count, to this beat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8075-1598-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.


From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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