A bright, sweet story about friendship, teamwork, and the joy of soccer.

WE PLAY SOCCER / JUGAMOS EL FÚTBOL

On a beautiful sunny day, two young boys experience the twists and turns of a soccer game.

Joe warmly greets José as he walks onto the soccer field. They eagerly show off their red uniforms and cleats, then practice keep-ups, juggling soccer balls on their knees. Their enthusiasm is palpable, but when the match begins, they aren’t chosen as starting players. A female coach benches the boys, and though they’re sad at first, the game soon absorbs their attention as they cheer on their teammates. Only when it begins to look like their team might lose are they called onto the field, much to their delight, and the match draws to an exciting conclusion. The story is told entirely through the boys’ dialogue, which appears in speech bubbles. Joe speaks exclusively in English and José, exclusively in Spanish. It’s not clear whether the boys can also speak each other’s languages, and poignantly, it doesn’t matter. The kids clearly understand each other, using body language and context to bolster verbal communication. The bilingual sentence repetition (“I pass the ball to José / Goal! / ¡Gol! / Le paso la pelota a Joe”) creates a realistic and seamless narrative that young children can easily follow while developing both English and Spanish skills. The illustrations are vibrant, and characters are depicted as having various shades of light brown skin. Backmatter helpfully provides direct translations of words that appear in the story.

A bright, sweet story about friendship, teamwork, and the joy of soccer. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4506-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are...

1-2-3 PEAS

After an alphabetical, rhyming tour de force (LMNO Peas, 2010), Baker’s energetic pea pack is back—this time, to count by ones and 10s.

Baker sidesteps the trickiness of rhyming the numerals by selecting a repeating word for each short verse. “ONE pea searching—look, look, look, / TWO peas fishing—hook, hook, hook.” Those numerals rise sky-high (to peas, at least) to dominate the digitally composed visuals, often serving as props for the frenzy of vegetative activity. At “TEN peas building—pound, pound, pound,” the peas erect a wooden platform around the numeral—mainly, it would seem, as an excuse for exuberantly hammering dozens of nails. Baker circumvents those oft-pesky ’teens in one deft double-page spread: “Eleven to nineteen—skip, skip, skip!” Then it’s a double-page spread per decade, with peas traveling, napping, watching fireworks and more. “SEVENTY peas singing” provide a bevy of details to spy: A fab foursome (the Peatles) rocks out above a chorus and director. Nearby, a barbershop quartet, a Wagnerian soloist, a showering pea and a dancing “Peayoncé” add to the fun. 

Whether they’re counting scores of peas, enjoying the rhymes and puns or relishing the funny visual quirks, families are sure to devour Baker’s latest winner. Totally ap-pea-ling! (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4551-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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