Well-intentioned but not quite a winner.

KNUCKLEBALL NED

A major league knuckleball pitcher pens a cautionary tale about self-esteem and standing up to bullies.

Ned is a very nervous baseball who worries about navigating his first day of school. He is clumsy and unsure of himself, always wobbling and bumping into everything. Strangely, at times he can float and glide. All the other kids know what kind of baseballs they are, but Ned has no clue. The Foul Ball Gang taunts him and calls him names, but Connie Curveball, Fletcher and Fiona Fastball, Sammy Softball and the others befriend him. When the gang throws his sneakers into a tree, he watches as the fastballs unsuccessfully launch themselves up to get them, spinning madly all the way. When Ned tries, he twists and turns and floats through the branches without spinning and deftly grabs the shoes, triumphing over the gang. He is a knuckleball and proud of it. Although story and prose are more than a bit unsubtle and stiff, Dickey, with an assist from Karounos, creates a sweet, sympathetic character and presents an earnest, heartfelt message. Bowers’ multilayered technique, employing acrylic, watercolor and color washes, produces illustrations that are lively and charming, giving the baseball characters surprising life and substance. Young readers will clearly understand the intent even if they are unfamiliar with the various pitch names and characteristics.

Well-intentioned but not quite a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4038-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A winning tale about finding new friends.

FOUND

Bear finds a wonderful toy.

Bear clearly loves the toy bunny that he has found sitting up against a tree in the forest, but he wants to help it return to its home. With a wagon full of fliers and the bunny secure in Bear’s backpack, he festoons the trees with posters and checks out a bulletin board filled with lost and found objects (some of which will bring a chuckle to adult readers). Alas, he returns home still worried about bunny. The following day, they happily play together and ride Bear’s tricycle. Into the cozy little picture steps Moose, who immediately recognizes his bunny, named Floppy. Bear has a tear in his eye as he watches Moose and Floppy hug. But Moose, wearing a tie, is clearly grown and knows that it is time to share and that Bear will take very good care of his Floppy. Yoon’s story is sweet without being sentimental. She uses digitized artwork in saturated colors to create a lovely little world for her animals. They are outlined in strong black lines and stand out against the yellows, blues, greens and oranges of the background. She also uses space to great effect, allowing readers to feel the emotional tug of the story.

A winning tale about finding new friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3559-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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