cover image The Magic Moonberry Jump Ropes: 9

The Magic Moonberry Jump Ropes: 9

Dakari Hru. Dial Books, $14.89 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1755-8

Whether portraying the fluid motion of a jump rope in use or the elation of a child receiving a special present, Lewis's (The New King; Fire on the Mountain) light-splashed watercolors are unusually expressive and strikingly realistic; they are the high point of this not altogether convincing book by the late author of Joshua's Masai Mask. Two African American sisters long for new friends so they can jump double Dutch. Then, upon returning from a trip to Tanzania, Uncle Zambezi gives the girls hand-dyed, rainbow-colored jump ropes that, he says, have magical powers: ""When you jump, they'll grant your wish."" Sure enough, soon after the sisters begin jumping, a moving van pulls up to the house across the street, bringing two new playmates. Embedded within the story are a handful of traditional jump-rope rhymes, some customized to fit the plot or the African American setting (e.g., ``Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear turn around'' turns into ``Nubian Princess turn around''). While the scope is ambitious, the execution is somewhat forced. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)