Readers will no doubt want to get down on the floor and do some gymnastics of their own.

JAKE AT GYMNASTICS

Jake and his friends love to stretch, hop like frogs, crawl, jump and tumble in their gymnastics class.

In a creative segue from her books about ballet, veteran author and illustrator Isadora creates another collection of charming vignettes of a delightfully diverse group of preschoolers enjoying a similarly healthy activity. These kids are clearly having a lot of fun, and their teachers support them and help them to feel safe, especially when teetering precariously on the balance beam. The teachers also encourage creative and fun activities, such as hopping like a frog (the children croak and giggle), jumping on the trampoline, bouncing on big balls, turning somersaults, and finally spreading their wings and flying out of the gym like birds. The chubby kids’ refreshingly natural postures and body language set this book apart from renderings of more conventionally pretty children, allowing young gymnasts of all ability levels to identify. Isadora’s skillful faux naïve pencil-and-ink drawings are enhanced with interesting textures in a rainbow of oil colors. Beginning readers will be attracted to the simple text, especially to the single-word exclamations in brightly colored speech bubbles.

Readers will no doubt want to get down on the floor and do some gymnastics of their own. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: June 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-160486

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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A memorable life—a forgettable presentation.

I AM JACKIE ROBINSON

From the Ordinary People Change the World series

Baseball’s No. 42 strikes out.

Even as a babe in his mother’s arms, Robinson is depicted wearing his Brooklyn Dodgers baseball cap in this latest entry in the Ordinary People Change the World series. He narrates his childhood alongside cartoon panels that show him as an expert runner and thrower. Racism and poverty are also part of his growing up, along with lessons in sharing and courage. Incredibly, the Negro Leagues are not mentioned beyond a passing reference to “a black team” with a picture of the Kansas City Monarchs next to their team bus (still looking like a child in the illustration, Robinson whines, “Gross! Is this food or goo?”). In 1946, Branch Rickey signs him to play for the Dodgers’ farm team, and the rest, as they say, is history. Robinson concludes his story with an exhortation to readers to be brave, strong and use their “power to do what’s right. / Use that power for a cause that you believe in.” Meltzer writes his inspirational biography as a first-person narrative, which risks being construed and used as an autobiography—which it is not. The digitally rendered cartoon illustrations that show Robinson as a perpetual child fall sadly short of capturing his demeanor and prowess.

A memorable life—a forgettable presentation. (photographs, timeline, sources, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4086-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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