cover image Jojo's Flying Side Kick

Jojo's Flying Side Kick

Brian Pinkney, J. Brian Pinkney, Nancy W. Pinkney. Little Simon, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80283-6

JoJo, a Tae Kwon Do white belt student, must break a board with a flying side kick in order to earn her yellow belt. She adds her worry about the test to her ever-present fear of the tree that looms ``like a creepy bandit'' in her front yard, but confides her nervousness to Granddaddy, her friend P.J. and her mother. All three offer advice drawn from their own experiences (``Visualize your technique.... That's what I do before a tennis match,'' says Mom). JoJo utilizes their suggestions as well as her own resources: visualizing the board as the creepy tree, she leaps into the air and smashes it. Energetic scratchboard and oil illustrations swirl with movement in a vivid palette of deep blues, greens and white. Pinkney renders the tree as reasonably ominous; accordingly, the late addition of a spooky face and hands to illustrate JoJo's terror is somewhat over the top. As in Pinkney's Max Found Two Sticks, the action plays out within a compressed time span, concentrating the tension. While the prose is not as taut this time, the author/artist again gets effortlessly into the mind of his protagonist. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)