The Adventures of Qai Qai

Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250831408.
PreS-Gr 2–The tennis champ’s first book features a small Black ballerina is an upbeat if simplistic look at the road to success. In Moises’s bright, lively cartoon-style artwork, Baby Girl’s ebullient hair puffs cloudlike around her head as she dances through her house (often en pointe—in fact, famously dangerous for young beginners’ bones). Before a live performance she fears forgetting the steps, and turns for support to her doll, based on Williams’s real-life daughter’s doll, Qai Qai. In response to Baby Girl’s belief in her, Qai Qai comes to life, directing her to raid Mama’s closet; they visit the theatre, where Qai Qai urges: “Trust your instincts.” Her parents also boost her confidence. She wants Qai Qai to come on stage with her, but the doll assures her that being always with her in spirit is “how best friends work.” “I believe in myself,” Baby Girl says, and her parents report that her performance (not illustrated) was amazing. As in Peter Pan, believing produces success: no learning, practicing, coaching, patience, discipline, etc., required.
VERDICT Technical quibbles aside, the positive message will resonate with many, and the frilly outfits in neon pink and lavender will win others.

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