Karate Kids

by Holly Sterling (Author) Holly Sterling (Illustrator)

Reading Level: K − 1st Grade

Gi? Ready! Belt? Ready! Let's go! It's karate time. HAI-YAH!

Join Maya and all her friends as they get together at the dojo for their Saturday karate class! There are moves to remember, blocks to practice, and punches to perfect. Maya is a white belt, which means she's still a beginner, but with focus, balance, and determination -- and a little help from her friends -- can she show Sensei what she's got?

Written and illustrated by Holly Sterling, a karate champion and teacher, this is a joyful and uplifting celebration of the sport and a must-have primer for any child hoping to be a karate kid one day.

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School Library Journal

PreS-K--Maya and her friends are in karate class. Maya is a beginner and has a white belt, while her friends are all at higher levels, but they all support one another, and Sterling sends a clear message about not giving up. As Maya puts it, "I can't touch my toes yet, but I stretch as far as I can go." This story will especially appeal to children in karate class because it introduces vocabulary and demonstrates the different terms with illustrations. At one point, Maya gets extra help from the teacher, or a sensei. The author, a karate champion, is passionate about her sport. At the back of the book she states, "Karate not only helps to improve fitness and flexibility, but it also teaches confidence, mindfulness, compassion, and respect. It is also a great way to make friends!" VERDICT Highly recommended for public and school libraries as an introduction to karate. This book also fosters kindness and encourages kids not to give up.--Robin Sofge, Prince William Public Library System, VA

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

A Saturday karate class comes to life in this picture book by Sterling, a sensei and medaled global competitor in the Japanese martial art form. In the first-person perspective, a pigtailed child called Maya conveys her enthusiasm for her karate class, showing readers her uniform, belt, and dojo, and using some karate terminology (age uke, gedan barai). Though Maya occasionally stumbles, her fellow karate kids are there to encourage her. Simple pencil and digitally colored illustrations complement the text's accessibility. Though the sensei--who resembles the author--and Maya herself are white, the children in Maya's class are inclusively portrayed, with multicultural names and skin tones, emphasizing the widespread appeal of the sport. Ages 3-7. (May)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes


Holly Sterling
Holly Sterling is the author-illustrator of Karate Kids and Hiccups! and the illustrator of the 15 Things Not to Do with a . . . series by Margaret McAllister and the Everybody Feels series by Moira Butterfield. An instructor of illustration and design at the University of Sunderland, Holly Sterling lives in England.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Candlewick Press (MA)
Publication date
May 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV032070 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Martial Arts
Library of Congress categories
Picture books

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