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JUST THE TWO OF US by Will Smith Kirkus Star

JUST THE TWO OF US

By Will Smith (Author) , Kadir Nelson (Illustrator)

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-439-08792-9
Publisher: Scholastic

The lyrics from Smith’s rap (of the same title) are beautifully illustrated here in this selection for one-on-one reading that celebrates the bond between father and son. Nelson (Big Jabe, 2000, etc.) uses a broad palette in his pencil and oil paintings to capture emotion and gesture in close-up or landscape views. The pictures are full of light, shadows, and love. He shows the father and the growing son of Smith’s text playing ball and trimming hair, as the father advises, “Throughout life people will make you mad / Disrespect you and treat you bad. / Let God deal with the things they do / ’Cause hate in your heart will consume you too.” Smith “standardized” some of the grammar in his text, which still needs to be read aloud, and with a beat. Different font size throughout a line indicates emphasis, and makes the words seem to move on the page. Though general in sentiment, the text is specific of an individual pair: “It didn’t work out with me and your mom / But yo, when push comes to shove / You were conceived in love.” This might make reading awkward for happily married fathers, but it’s a unique and beautiful title, and for some it will fit the bill. (Picture book. 6-10)