Jabari Tries

Written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall
32 pages  •  Published 2020 (Candlewick Press)
Book cover
Recommended Age Range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Publisher's Summary: Jabari is making a flying machine in his backyard! “It’ll be easy. I don’t need any help,” he declares. But it doesn’t work! Jabari is frustrated. Good thing Dad is there for a pep talk and his little sister, Nika, is there to assist, fairy wings and all. With the endearing father-child dynamic of Jabari Jumps and engaging mixed-media illustrations, Gaia Cornwall’s tale shows that through perseverance and flexibility, an inventive thought can become a brilliant reality.
Book cover

Dr. Annie's Takeaways

Recommended for: This is a fun, heart-warming book about a boy and his baby sister engineering a model plane and overcoming the frustration of crashes to find success. It’s a lovely book to read with a child who has a hard time managing frustration and/or who is disinclined to try again after an initial failure.
Would a child like it? Many children (and adults) will really enjoy this book. It’s well-written and very sweet.
Evidence-Based Practices: Emotional Literacy, Diaphragmatic Breathing
Tone: Sweet, encouraging
Story Quality: This stand-alone sequel to Cornwall’s hit Jabari Jumps continues the sweet father-son relationship established in the first book and shows Jabari tackling another personal challenge–dealing with frustration–with the help of his father. This book also features a cute relationship between Jabari and his little sister. It’s an adorable book with a lot of heart and a triumphant ending.
Illustrations: Pretty, highly-patterned illustrations that are quirky and fun to look at.
Representation: Jabari is a boy with a baby sister Nika and a father. The family is Black. The story takes place in the large backyard of a home in an urban neighborhood (a large apartment building is just visible in the distance). There is an illustration of Jabari thinking about inventors and engineers, and there are four people pictured (Lewis Howard Latimer, Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, Roy Allela, and Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson): two women and two men, all people of color. It’s refreshing to see a page about inventors that includes this diversity and goes beyond Thomas Edison.
Psychological Practices: This book is a good depiction of frustration, including explicit use of this emotion word, and it teaches an effective strategy for managing this feeling. After getting frustrated, Jabari takes “a tiny rest,” and his father validates his frustration. He then teaches Jabari that when he’s frustrated he likes to take a deep breath “and blow away all the mixed feelings inside…And then I try again.” After Jabari does this, “he felt his body calm down. He felt his brain begin to work better.” After one last try, the plane flies! It would be fun to practice this emotion regulation skill by making paper airplanes and taking a break and a deep breath when there’s a frustrating moment.
Concerns: None

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