The Best You!

­Genius Cat. (The Best You). Apr. 2022. 32p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781938447310.
K-Gr 3–The first book in Tharp’s “The Best You” series endeavors to reassure children that, though they may not achieve the pinnacle of success in some ordinary children’s pastimes, as long as they do their best, it’s okay: “Instead of great you may only be good.” They should be proud to have made the attempt. Digital illustrations are brightly colored and filled with energy; the inclusive spreads feature children of different skin colors, ethnicities, and abilities. Various children are shown with an array of hair colors and textures, a hijab, braces, eyeglasses, and a wheelchair. The rhyming couplet format is uneven and doesn’t scan well, so this is not a smooth read-aloud: “Cartwheels, handstands, and backwards bend./ You might tumble tumbles like gymnast Tonya Tippends!” who isn’t tumbling but dancing in ballet toe shoes next to a ballet barre.
VERDICT Told with plenty of heart, this title’s potential is marred by its rough rhyme scheme and careless execution.

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