The Hula-Hoopin' Queen
By Publishers Weekly
In a snappy story about a tight-knit urban community, Kameeka has been honing her Hula-Hooping skills in hopes of beating her neighborhood rival, Jamara, the reigning "Hula-Hoopin' Queen of 139th Street." But Kameeka's mother reminds her that she needs to help make a birthday cake for their neighbor, Miz Adeline—just when Kameeka is supposed to be showing off her moves to Jamara. One failed cake later, Kameeka heads out (hoop in hand) to grab sugar for another attempt and runs into Jamara Hula-Hooping on the street. All of a sudden, it's easy to forget about baking that second cake: "my fingers start snappin' and my feet start tappin'. My hips start swingin', and I just know I'm gonna beat Jamara today." Kameeka is contrite when she realizes that, because of her, Miz Adeline won't have a birthday cake, but an innovative alternative—and the discovery that Miz Adeline is no slouch with a Hula Hoop herself—result in a successful celebration. First-time picture book author Godin's empathic prose and Brantley-Newton's emotionally telegraphic art capture the lively and nurturing Harlem neighborhood and the thrill of competition, whether age nine or 90.