Jabari has passed his swimming test, and says he is ready to jump off the diving board in his local pool. In this wonderful portrait of a father/son relationship, we see the gentle guidance of a loving father helping a young child to recognise and process feelings of fear and excitement. This kind of emotional literacy is a wonderful skill for children to learn, and it is gratifying to see such a compassionate and gentle father depicted. Just as we are mindful of the perils of the narrow stereotyping of girls, so too should we be aware of the how our culture depicts boys and men.
There is a lovely rhythm to the text with repeated phrases in parts, and flowing dialogue. Cornwall’s illustrations are a mixture of collage, watercolour and digital. Jabari’s family alone are given an orange outline against the blue background, this makes the brown and black hues of their skin glow with energy. Cinematic in style, perspective is played with to great effect. We see Jabari at the bottom of the ladder from the perspective of the diving board, we see his toes curling around the diving board and the pool far below him, then we seem to be jumping into the pool alongside him.
In this truly immersive work, you will find yourself shifting position frequently. From imparting words of wisdom as Jabari’s father, to empathising with Jabari’s moments of doubt, to splashing alongside him in the pool, the narrative moves seamlessly along. Perfect for 5-7 year olds.