Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash.
Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He's finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he's a great jumper, so he's not scared at all. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board.
In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can't help but root for.
An African-American boy works up the courage to leap from the high dive in Cornwall's warm and genuine debut. "I'm a great jumper... so I'm not scared at all!" announces Jabari as he arrives at an outdoor city pool with his father and sister. "Looks easy," he adds as he watches kids jump from the towering board, but "when his dad squeezed his hand, Jabari squeezed back." With understated humor and plenty of understanding, Cornwall reveals Jabari's transparent excuses for delaying his ascent up the ladder: he must think about what "special jump" he will do, take a "tiny rest," and stretch. Finally, after words of encouragement from his patient father, Jabari makes the climb and braves the jump, a sequence viewed from various perspectives that amplify his accomplishment. A daunting gaze downward, past Jabari's toes that curl around the edge of the board, makes the water look incredibly far away, and when seen from behind, he seems as high up as the skyscrapers in the distance. It's a lovely, knowing account of a big "first" in a child's life. Ages 4-8. (May)Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
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 ServicesCopyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.