by J Dillard (Author) Akeem S Roberts (Illustrator)
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Gr 1-3—Fresh off his win at the Great Barber Battle, J.D. has been working at the barbershop for a couple of months now and is feeling like things are getting stale. After all, how many other eight-year-olds spend every Saturday working a job? When his sister Vanessa proposes that they start a YouTube channel so she can become a Hair Influencer, J.D. is willing to quit his Saturday job and give it a try. But almost immediately, the unthinkable happens and it seems he and best friend Jordan will be in debt for payback on a certain expensive camera until they're in high school. Can "The Southeast Star's Summer Vacation Showdown" provide them with a win, new subscribers, and a cash prize; or will they just end up as also-ran wannabes? This early-reader chapter book has lots of heart and lots of fun, along with lively black-and-white illustrations. There are plugs for college, hard work, honing your talents, and even Vacation Bible School. J.D. and his multigenerational family are African American, and their culture and community provide the backbone for this story. Perhaps the only stumble is that J.D. reads older than his supposed age of eight, as does his sister, who at age 10 sounds like she could be starting high school. Even so, this book will work well both for independent readers and as a read-aloud. VERDICT Everyone will root for J.D. and his mad barbering skills. A good choice for all libraries serving elementary-age readers.—Elizabeth Friend, Wester M.S., TXCopyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.