Making a strong solo debut, Morrison (R-E-S-P-E-C-T) introduces young Black expert skateboarder Ivan, “the kickflipping, big rail king” who’s “been grinding the streets with moves so big, his friends call him EPIC.” Facing “a new day in a new neighborhood” after moving with his family, he’s “off to find a new crew,” with little initial success. He tries to fit in with the local kids, attempting football, soccer, and basketball, until a final ride through the ethnically diverse neighborhood—“in and out of a sidewalk pickup game,” past a dance studio, by a barber shop, and to the local bodega—sets Ivan on a route to friendship and community. Text foregrounds onomatopoeia (“KICK PUSH SWISH!”; “KICK PUSH ZWOOSH!”), while Morrison’s engaging illustrations alternate between detailed domestic portraiture (“How about one more ride, king?” asks Ivan’s expressive father) and street art–tinged landscapes in which dynamic skating poses convey acrobatic motion. Together, words and images elevate this simple story about the importance of being oneself, centering a kid finding his way in a lively neighborhood full of epic movement. Front matter includes an author’s note. Ages 3–6. Agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.)
Dynamic perspectives, . . . a lively story that encourages kids to use their strengths and talents to find community.” —The Horn Book
"Along with the vibrant images, the author brings to life an encouraging story about new schools and new friends which many students will identify with." - School Library Connection
“Morrison's energetic, brightly hued paintings are rendered in his signature urban mannerist style that also incorporates graffiti and abstract contemporary techniques . . . and the message of being true to yourself and your passions will please young readers.” —Booklist
“A beautifully illustrated book about the exhilaration of being yourself. Recommended for all school and public library collections.” —School Library Journal
“Viewers can focus on the dizzying angles and color intensity of Ivan's airborne maneuvers, the graffiti vibe that permeates his vibrant urban milieu, and the carefully, credibly cultivated cool of his diverse new crew.” —BCCB
“Morrison's upbeat narrative slides along smoothly, mirroring the energy and panache of its protagonist . . . An important reminder that, in the quest for friendship, who you truly are is more than enough.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Vibrant. . . If a school pep rally could walk and talk, this kid would be it.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review, on I GOT THE SCHOOL SPIRIT
“The electric hues, constant motion, and winning smiles that fill Morrison's oil paintings enhance the boundless vitality of this sensory celebration of school.” —Publishers Weekly on I GOT THE SCHOOL SPIRIT
“This joyful offering will be a happy addition to any shelf.” —Booklist on I GOT THE SCHOOL SPIRIT
“Christmas spirit is expressed in joyous and reflective onomatopoeic exclamations in this new holiday staple. . . . Soul-stirring and sure to put readers in a festive mood.” —Kirkus Reviews on I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
“Morrison's oil paintings capture the crackling energy of a city preparing for Christmas; the married coauthors' message about cultivating kindness, gratitude, and community the whole year through sings on the page.” —Publishers Weekly on I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
“Schofield-Morrison's onomatopoeia-inflected text and Morrison's kinetic, zoomed-in oil paintings enliven various iterations of experiencing 'the spirit' . . . An energetic and uplifting celebration of the season.” —Horn Book Magazine on I GOT THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT
“The driving beat of debut author Schofield-Morrison's narrative is likely to have readers bouncing and tapping right along with her . . . An upbeat celebration of the senses, self-expression, and camaraderie.” —Publishers Weekly on I GOT THE RHYTHM
“The bright palette and vibrant tones of Morrison's loosely painted illustrations echo the energy of the text nicely . . . the book begs readers to sing and move along with this little dancer.” —Booklist on I GOT THE RHYTHM
K-Gr 2—Ivan is an epic skater—in fact, his moves on the board are so jaw-droppingly awesome that even his parents call him Epic. Like the tricks he's mastered on his board, Epic anticipates mastering the transition to his new school and neighborhood. However, finding new friends that are interested in skateboarding is a bit more difficult than expected, so Epic tries a different approach for fitting in: He tries out the other sports the neighborhood kids play. This, Epic learns, is easier in theory than practice, as he discovers that sometimes fitting in is simply being true to himself. This debut picture book from Morrison features his signature characters with highly expressive movements that capture acutely the feeling of living and thriving in the big city. Epic, an Black boy with a crown of natural hair, soars through the neighborhood on his board in a manner that evokes freedom and pure joy. His skateboard tricks, juxtaposed against a backdrop of focused, multicultural kids engaged in activities they enjoy, send the message that there is room for everyone to pursue their passions. VERDICT A beautifully illustrated book about the exhilaration of being yourself. Recommended for all school and public library collections.—Tamela Chambers, Chicago P. L.
Ivan, a young Black boy with a big, beautiful Afro, is such a skilled street skater that his friends have nicknamed him Epic.
When he and his family move to a new inner-city neighborhood, for the first time he finds himself without a clique to cheer him on or learn new skating stunts from. “You never landed a new trick on the first try,” his dad reminds him. “Keep an open mind, and you’ll meet new friends.” In an attempt to fit in with the neighborhood kids, Epic tries his hand at various other sports without success. Seeing his discouragement, his parents suggest that he skate down to the bodega for a treat. On his way there, Epic performs a scintillating series of skateboarding maneuvers, unaware that several kids of various ages are observing him with great interest. Only when he arrives at the bodega does he realize that he’s unwittingly found himself a new skating crew. Morrison’s upbeat narrative slides along smoothly, mirroring the energy and panache of its protagonist, and at times slips comfortably into African American Vernacular English. Skateboarding terminology is scattered liberally throughout the text, but readers unfamiliar with the jargon will feel the lack of a glossary. Morrison's illustrations—rendered in oil with their trademark graffiti-inspired, urban mannerist style—use interesting perspectives, silhouetting, and continuous narration to create a free-wheeling sense of Epic’s, well, epicness. Most characters are Black; a few illustrations include diverse representation.
An important reminder that, in the quest for friendship, who you truly are is more than enough. (Picture book. 6-8)