Jabari Tries

Candlewick. Sept. 2020. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781536207163.
Gr 2-4–Fresh after getting up the courage to jump off the diving board, Jabari starts a new project: building a flying machine. It’s frustrating work, and Jabari gets angry when his little contraption crashes to the ground. With advice from his dad and help from his younger sister, Jabari gets his anger under control and refines his experiment until it soars. With an added dash of teamwork and perseverance, Cornwall successfully combines two current topics, engineering and mindful breathing, into one story. Cornwall uses metaphor to explain Jabari’s internal feelings and the text flips and curls around the pages when the flying machine takes to the air. Illustrations support the text, but one outstanding spread shows readers how Jabari is inspired by BIPOC engineers, inventors, and scientists of the past. Jabari’s sister, Nika, wears a different outfit on every page; it’s fun to identify her cute costumes, but also confounding as to how she changes so quickly with neither her brother nor her father remarking upon it. By the time she’s wearing a head-to-toe spacesuit on the final page, readers will wonder if she’ll be the star of Cornwall’s next book—either as an astronaut, fashion designer, or magician.
VERDICT Great storytelling and compelling content should win this book readers of all ages.

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