May 26, 2017

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Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall | SLJ Review

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redstarCORNWALL, Gaia. Jabari Jumps. illus. by Gaia Cornwall. 32p. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763678388.

PreS-Gr 2 –An African American boy and his baby sister and father head to an urban community pool. Jabari has completed his swim lessons and tests and is ready to jump off a diving board. In his zigzag swim trunks and swim goggles, the boy tells his dad that diving looks easy. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, up, and up at the diving board, he starts stalling for time, saying that he has other things to do before he can make the big leap. His father reassures him that it is OK to be scared, encourages him to take deep breaths, and tells him that he might just be surprised. With renewed determination, Jabari climbs the ladder and jumps into the pool. He’s flying and splashing and sinking down and swimming back up and he’s done it! Jabari is a great jumper. Just enough conversational text accompanies each illustration, including several smaller vignettes on a single page that help build suspense. Mixed-media images in serene muted colors, high-rise buildings above the tree line, and the intriguing addition of faded newsprint accents strengthen the urban feel of the illustrations. VERDICT Jabari’s story will help assuage the fears kids experience when faced with a new and daunting adventure. A terrific seasonal storytime read-aloud that’s perfect for one-on-one sharing.–Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services

This review was published in the School Library Journal May 2017 issue.

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