Just as he did with the wonderful Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin (1995), Moss makes child’s play out of sophisticated verse that will keep young ears rapt. Here, it’s a marching band that slowly gets assembled, as he identifies each aspiring musician and accompanying instrument: “One house away, Shavaun O’Shea, / In mapping out her life, / Had planned to blow a piccolo / (Which some folks call a fife).” As Ralph and Harry and Maureen get familiar with their trombones and sousaphones and glockenspiels, the neighborhood gets a taste of cacophony: “ ‘That sound annoys! It near destroys! / They bellow and complain. / ‘Confound that noise! / Those girls and boys are driving us insane.’ ” But the learning curve is not too cruel and soon the band is good enough to impress the mayor, who invites them to the July 4th parade, where they do the town proud. “You sound so good. / When starting out, we had no doubt, / We always knew you would.” Moss conveys not just the joy of music making, but, more subtly, the need to practice hard to get it right. Bluthenthal’s (Bertie’s Picture Day, not reviewed, etc.) cartoon art matches the verve of Moss’s words, and provides for as much cultural variety in the players as there are instruments. Goggle-eyed kids, in various shapes and sizes, strut their stuff across pages of all-American landscape to the delight of their equally goofy parents. And just so you notice, the mayor is an African-American woman. Hip hip hooray! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23335-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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


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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Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents.


After swinging out from the jungle after a long day of ninja-ing, Will makes his way home just in time for a bath. But as all ninjas know, danger lurks around every corner.

Even naughty ninjas get hungry, but Dad says, “Pee-yew,” and insists his little ninja get clean before going near a morsel. Ever the Naughty Ninja, Will follows his dad into the bathroom and immediately spies danger: Poisonous flies that have followed him from the jungle! As any parent would, his dad begs him not to say, “Ninja to the rescue,” because we all know what comes after a catchphrase…chaos! Through each increasingly rough rescue, Dad finds himself more and more defeated in his quest to complete bathtime, but ultimately he starts to find the infectious joy that only the ridiculousness of children can bring out in an adult. The art is bright and finds some nifty ninja perspectives that use the space well. It also places an interracial family at its center: Dad has brown skin and dark, puffy hair, and Mom is a white redhead; when out of his ninja cowl, Will looks like a slightly lighter-skinned version of his father. Kids will laugh at everything the dad is put through, and parents will knowingly nod, because we have all had nights with little ninjas soaking the bathroom floor. The book starts out a little text heavy but finds its groove quickly, reading smoothly going forward. Lots of action means it’s best not to save this one for bedtime.

Good fun for all little ninjas and their parents. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9433-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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