|Candlewick Press. June, 2017|
With Fathers' Day barely a blink away, the June release of JABARI JUMPS arrives on bookstore shelves just in time. Author/illustrator Gaia Cornwall has produced a perfect picture book, with natural appeal on the surface, and plenty to discover when you dive below the surface. Mirroring Jabari's exuberant attitude after (spoiler alert) mastering the high dive, readers will want to return to this book again and again to revel in the story, the warmly supportive relationship, and to discover even greater thrills within its pages.
The generous trim size allows for expansive, sunny, watery, double-page spreads, turn after turn featuring expressive characters with just enough detail to connect with urban readers (skylines) and swimmers, divers, and families everywhere.
I was delighted by Jabari's gusto, bravado, and attention to his cautionary inner voice. Even more so, I was touched by his dad's sensitive awareness and deft responses to affirm, reassure, and encourage independent choice. From the title spread onward, Jabari, his dad, and his toddler sister are portrayed tenderly, energetically, recognizably, and humorously. The images and color choices had me smelling chlorine and hearing the splashing laughter of a summer community pool.
I'm not the only one to celebrate this new release. School Library Journal's starred review summarizes the storyline and concludes: "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."