Sure to excite the youngest fans of Lil Nas X.

C IS FOR COUNTRY

This alphabet book glides on the style of viral country-trap superstar Lil Nas X.

By now just about everyone must know the words to 2019’s ever present “Old Town Road.” Those who follow Lil Nas X closely may also recall the initial rejection he weathered as a Black artist who sought to blend hip-hop and country. Even deeper, his courage in publicly declaring and living his gay identity and his hilarious social media antics have buoyed his fame. X’s brand of joyousness, boldness, and abundant love follow through in this alphabet book that presents a day in the life of a child Lil Nas X on his ranch. There’s the expected animals (horses, cows, rabbits), “dirt” (letter D), and beautiful sunset landscapes (featuring that famous road for the letter O). But remember, this is Lil Nas X, so there’s also his gaudy “swag” (letter S), “fake fur” (letter F), signature “hats” (letter H), and stylish “boots” (letter B). Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award winner Taylor provides the illustrations, taking a (mostly) realistic approach to depicting a pint-sized artist amid his beautiful family. Assuredly, Lil Nas X was trolling when he tweeted that this endeavor would the “the best kids book of all time,” but it delivers on expanding the boundary-busting, genre-blending, self-defining, positive-energy universe that Lil Nas X is building for his youthful fan base. And that’s probably enough. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 57.4% of actual size.)

Sure to excite the youngest fans of Lil Nas X. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30078-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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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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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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