Perhaps this lullaby should have been a song or rap; it certainly has little to offer as a book

READ REVIEW

NIGHTTIME SYMPHONY

An inner-city lullaby from a black father to his son.

When the driving rain comes and the storm winds blow, this brown-skinned dad lovingly comforts his son by associating weather events with different types of music. The raging storm gets remixed into a song, the howling winds create nature’s voice, and the rushing waters play music. Like many other celebrity books, this one is didactic and preachy in its approach to addressing the child, who lacks any agency. In this rhyming poem (“radios sing in every home, / steady like the city’s metronome”), the scenes jump: from the child’s naptime to a band of multitalented black angels singing in heaven to the boy asleep in a yellow paper hat–turned-boat in a city gutter next to the fast-moving shoes of city dwellers. The artwork, which Myers composed with Kaa Illustration (the Vietnam-based team Phung Nguyen Quang and Huyn Kim Lien), looks cartoonish and far inferior to most of Myers’ other work. But it would be easy to miss who illustrated the book upon first glance. It would even be easy to miss the title; Timbaland’s name so thoroughly dominates the book’s cover that most readers will easily mistake it for the book’s name.

Perhaps this lullaby should have been a song or rap; it certainly has little to offer as a book . (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-14424-1208-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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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

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

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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