Mario Makes a Move

Overview

According to Publishers Weekly in a starred review, this picture book "capture[s] the exuberance of the creative spirit alongside the quirks of a character accepting his limitations." Mario is a squirrel who loves to invent amazing moves, like the Super Looper and Tail, Don't Fail. But though his parents ooh and ahh at whatever he does, his friend Isabelle is not so easily impressed. When she points out that anyone can have a move, Mario must find some other way to stand out.

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Overview

According to Publishers Weekly in a starred review, this picture book "capture[s] the exuberance of the creative spirit alongside the quirks of a character accepting his limitations." Mario is a squirrel who loves to invent amazing moves, like the Super Looper and Tail, Don't Fail. But though his parents ooh and ahh at whatever he does, his friend Isabelle is not so easily impressed. When she points out that anyone can have a move, Mario must find some other way to stand out.

Sometimes being amazing is hard work, as shown in this zany yet accessible picture book from Jill McElmurry, illustrator of The One and Only Marigold and Little Blue Truck. Young readers will instantly recognize themselves in Mario, as he searches for his one-of-a-kind talent. Here is a hilarious read-aloud that will have little ones oohing and ahhing—and trying out some moves of their own.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Who needs a dance floor? Mario the squirrel busts out his signature Jitterbug, Super Looper, Arch ’n’ Hiss, and other amazing feats in his natural habitat: the tree. While family members heap on the praise (“Astonishing!” “Artistic!”), Mario’s pal Isabelle isn’t as impressed (“That’s nice”). She’s busy crafting complicated moves of her own. Faced with not being as unique as he thought, Mario feels the wrong kind of funk coming on. But in true friend fashion, Isabelle knows how to help him get his groove—and his moves—back. In Mario, McElmurry (Who Stole Mona Lisa?) introduces a seemingly egotistical artiste who’s actually quite likable. Her text and watercolor artwork capture the exuberance of the creative spirit alongside the quirks of a character accepting his limitations. Set in a forest of golden fall foliage, accented by some brown acorns and a supportive (and agile) woodland cast, the scenes will have readers longing for crisp autumn air. Sketched blueprints for various moves and an end page of facts labeled “If You Are a Squirrel” are among many memorable humorous details. Ages 3–7. Agent: Wernick and Pratt Agency. (May)
From the Publisher
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, March 12, 2012:
“Her [McElmurry] text and watercolor artwork capture the exuberance of the creative spirit alongside the quirks of a character accepting his limitations…the scenes will have readers longing for crisp autumn air.”
Kirkus Reviews
Mario is a squirrel who loves his dance moves, from the "Bowling Ball" to "Twirly Ballet Arms," and his relatives assure him he is amazing. He believes them. His friend, blue–tutu-and-glasses-sporting Isabelle, however, dismisses his dance moves as "nice:" " ‘NICE?' said Mario. ‘I think you mean amazing. Or astonishing, maybe.' ‘Hmmm,' said Isabelle." When she informs Mario that anyone can have a move, he's devastated. He decides his new creative pursuit will be finding and displaying sticks… amazing sticks. He labels his sticks "Scratchy," "Twiggles" and "Plain Jane." When Isabelle realizes she's driven her friend to these sticky extremes, she feels bad about the "nice" and switches it to a "elegant." She adds "graceful." In a harmonious denouement, the two squirrels mash their dance moves and invent the "Even More Amazingly Amazing Amazer." ("And everyone was amazed.") In one sense the story is about pursuing one's own passion, no matter what others say or don't say about it. It's also about a friend who realizes the power of the wrong word at the wrong time and takes it back. Warm, winning gouache illustrations reflect soft autumnal landscapes populated by cartoonish animals and are juxtaposed with comically elaborate diagrams of various dance moves, some detailed on cut-out graph paper. A charming story of friendship, dance moves, artistic fervor and squirrels. (And squirrel facts!) (Picture book. 4-8)
Children's Literature - Sharon Oliver
Mario the squirrel is working on his repertoire of "amazing moves" like "Rocket to Mars" and "Twirly Ballet Arms" which his family find, "Amazing!," "Artistic!" and "Astonishing!" But when Mario demonstrates his moves to his acorn-juggling friend Isabelle, she is less than impressed, "That's nice." When Isabelle proves that she, too, has moves, Mario is devastated and accuses Isabelle of stealing his moves. When she points out that "anyone can have a move" Mario switches to collecting "amazing sticks" instead. Isabelle convinces him that his move was amazing after all and the two teach their respective amazing moves to each other. They combine their two moves into the "Even More Amazingly Amazing Amazer." McElmurry provides 12 squirrel facts on the last page, titled, "If You Are a Squirrel" along with Mario's added number 13, "You make amazing moves." McElmurry's movement-filled gouache illustrations are delightful and punctuated with graph paper background line drawings with detailed directions for several of the "moves." The fall colors are the perfect setting for these energetic squirrels and their acrobatic moves. This fabulous story about friendship, sharing and creativity is a definite first choice. Reviewer: Sharon Oliver
School Library Journal
Gr 1—Mario is a frenetic squirrel whose "amazing" acrobatic high jinks impress his family but not his bespectacled friend Isabelle. Not only does she put down his best trick, but she also comes up with a more impressive one of her own and points out that everyone can have special moves. Crushed, Mario abandons his beloved but no longer unique hobby in favor of collecting "amazing" sticks (amusingly labeled with little name tags). Isabelle persuades him to return to his spiffy move-making. Teaming up, they teach each other new stunts and somewhat predictably, "everyone was amazed." There's something inherently humorous about squirrels, and McElmurry amplifies that quality in her stylized gouache illustrations. The mostly orange, light blue, and gray spreads are populated with comically expressive critters and graph-paper diagrams of their maneuvers. The last page features a "If You Are a Squirrel" list, which is full of interesting and potentially giggle-inducing facts about the animal. Though not quite "amazingly amazing," the story stands out as promoting doing something one loves.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375868542
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/8/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 986,818
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

JILL MCELMURRY is the author and illustrator of I'm Not a Baby!, Mad About Plaid, and Mess Pets. Her art for Florence Parry Heide's The One and Only Marigold, "infuses even more humor into the already laugh-out-loud stories," said Kirkus Reviews, in a starred review. She is also the illustrator of Alice Schertle's Little Blue Truck, Lillian Moore's I'm Small and Other Verses, Dayle Ann Dodds's The Kettles Get New Clothes, Ruthie Knapp's Who Stole Mona Lisa?, and Stephanie Spinner's It's A Miracle!: A Hanukkah Storybook. Visit her at jillmcelmurry.com.

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