I’ll Root for You

Edward van de Vendel, illus. by Wolf Erlbruch. Eerdmans, $17 (44p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5501-5
This collection of 17 poems by van de Vendel riffs on sports of every stripe, from skateboarding, sprinting, and tennis to the lesser-known, theoretical “tree sports.” Both meditative and dryly humorous, certain selections, including “Poem” and “I’ll Root for You,” may resonate most strongly with young readers, while others offer more mature language and tone. In “Stretch a Rope Tight,” the reader is encouraged to persist over demoralizing commentary (“Stretch a rope tight over it./ Over/ the things they said that got stuck in your head.”). “A Magic Place” describes the moment when an athlete enters the zone: “You’ve trained your body year on year,/ but only when your mind is clear/ and blank—when you’re not there—/ can your body cleave the air.” The subtly introspective selections are accompanied by Erlbruch’s distinctive illustrations of eccentric animal underdogs. Erlbruch is especially adept at communicating the mood of each poem through the subjects’ expressions and body language. With gumption and wit, the duo urges readers to try and beat the odds, while reminding them that there’s also nothing wrong with coming in last. Ages 7–up. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 08/01/2018
Genre: Children's
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