An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend.

MUHAMMAD ALI

A CHAMPION IS BORN

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali comes to life for young readers.

Close-up, in-your-face oil illustrations and a lively text design with plenty of onomatopoeia (“POW! POW! POW!”) and quotations from the champ give readers a sense of the life and style of the great Muhammad Ali. Action scenes from the famous bouts with Sonny Liston, George Foreman, and Leon Spinks open the volume, which then goes back to a famous pivotal event in his life, when his bicycle is stolen and Cassius Clay (as was his name then) becomes determined to find the thief and “whup him.” The policeman on the scene, Officer Joe Martin, suggests that Cassius learn to fight. The story continues in gyms, following Cassius’ training days, abruptly jumping to a single page that wraps up his career and another that comments on Ali’s public persona. This is slight treatment given that 10 pages are devoted to the bike scene. However, framing the story with an opening painting of a lone heavy bag and closing with a deserted boxing ring is visually effective. A two-page endnote on Ali’s life offers plenty of details that might have been effectively incorporated into the story itself. As it is, readers may well be sufficiently tantalized to seek out other, more complete picture-book treatments.

An eye-catching if incomplete treatment of the legend. (Picture book/biography. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-243016-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 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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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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