A gleeful, tender celebration of self-expression through movement, destined to become a favorite read-aloud.

HOW DO YOU DANCE?

A simple question—“How do you dance?”—meets resistance from one bespectacled youngster, who’s surrounded by a diverse, exuberant cast of characters displaying their signature moves in a range of settings and scenarios.

Heder perfectly captures the joy each figure finds in dance with muted watercolor-and-pencil illustrations against a white background. The serif typeface lends an authoritative air to the narrative voice’s descriptions of movement while playful hand-lettered text is sprinkled throughout to indicate characters’ responses to the “official” text. The typography also works with the book’s landscape format to emphasize the ways in which one might move—“FAST FAST FAST” in blurred italics and a drawn-out “sloooo o o o w w w w”—across a horizontal axis. The text’s organic, encouraging flow pauses at an official-looking chart that demonstrates such moves as “the swivel,” “the toodle,” and “the scoot” before taking an unexpected and delightful pirouette into the surreal: A full-bleed spread shows humans, including a dancer in a wheelchair, sharing a dimly lit dance floor (complete with disco ball) with dinosaurs, a robot, and horses. The reluctant dancer, who is not named or gendered by the text, has short dark brown hair and peachy tan skin and wears a green pullover with purple shorts and sneakers.

A gleeful, tender celebration of self-expression through movement, destined to become a favorite read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3418-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Sincere and wholehearted.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

I PROMISE

The NBA star offers a poem that encourages curiosity, integrity, compassion, courage, and self-forgiveness.

James makes his debut as a children’s author with a motivational poem touting life habits that children should strive for. In the first-person narration, he provides young readers with foundational self-esteem encouragement layered within basketball descriptions: “I promise to run full court and show up each time / to get right back up and let my magic shine.” While the verse is nothing particularly artful, it is heartfelt, and in her illustrations, Mata offers attention-grabbing illustrations of a diverse and enthusiastic group of children. Scenes vary, including classrooms hung with student artwork, an asphalt playground where kids jump double Dutch, and a gym populated with pint-sized basketball players, all clearly part of one bustling neighborhood. Her artistry brings black and brown joy to the forefront of each page. These children evince equal joy in learning and in play. One particularly touching double-page spread depicts two vignettes of a pair of black children, possibly siblings; in one, they cuddle comfortably together, and in the other, the older gives the younger a playful noogie. Adults will appreciate the closing checklist of promises, which emphasize active engagement with school. A closing note very generally introduces principles that underlie the Lebron James Family Foundation’s I Promise School (in Akron, Ohio). (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 15% of actual size.)

Sincere and wholehearted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297106-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

ONE MORE DINO ON THE FLOOR

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more