cover image Jake at Gymnastics

Jake at Gymnastics

Rachel Isadora. Penguin/Paulsen, $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-16048-6

In this companion to Bea at Ballet, an equally angelic and ethnically diverse group of preschoolers attend gymnastics class. Their teacher, Dave, sets a playful tone (“Let’s be frogs and hop today”), and the boys and girls leap to the task, registering their enthusiasm in boldly colored speech balloons (“Ribbit”). Isadora’s spare pencil-and-ink pictures pop from the white backdrop thanks to the kids’ brightly colored clothing, created with collaged bits of oil painting. Isadora takes full advantage of the sport’s high energy as the young athletes crawl, swing, bounce, tumble, and jump. An early spread shows the children demonstrating various stretching exercises (side split, back bend, etc.), after which they try out different activities, including hanging from a parallel bar and bouncing on a trampoline. The story realistically spotlights achievements as well as slip-ups: a girl successfully balances on the low beam (“I’m doing it!”), while a boy topples during a somersault (“Oops!”). But it’s the kids’ sense of accomplishment and glee that readers will take away from Isadora’s slice-of-life story. Ages 3–5. (June)