cover image Little Shaq

Little Shaq

Shaquille O’Neal, illus. by Theodore Taylor III. Bloomsbury, $9.99 (80p) ISBN 978-1-61963-721-4

O’Neal (Shaq and the Beanstalk) kicks off a family-centric series with a mild story that unfolds over three chapters. As might be expected, basketball is at the forefront: Little Shaq’s ball-hogging leads to a rift with his brother Barry, culminating in a broken video game. Readers may be surprised to discover, however, that a gardening theme is equally present, as Little Shaq and Barry begin a plant-watering business in order to purchase a replacement video game. Taylor’s full-color illustrations do a passable job of reflecting the ups and downs of the characters’ emotions, though with the exception of a few scenes of on-the-court action, they begin to look static and repetitive. The straightforward language is well-tailored to the target audience, and there’s no missing the earnest, obvious messages about compromise, teamwork, and community involvement. A Full Fathom Five property. Ages 5–7. (Oct.)