The Hula-Hoopin' Queen

By The Horn Book

In this refreshingly original story, Kameeka is determined to finally outlast her longtime rival, Jamara Johnson, to win the title of “Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street.” On the day of the contest, unfortunately, Kameeka’s mom reminds her that they’re hosting a birthday party for their elderly neighbor, Miz Adeline. Kameeka reluctantly agrees to help her mom with the party preparations, but her mind is on hula-hooping, and a mistake she makes while helping bake the cake necessitates a trip to the store for more sugar. The errand takes her right down the block where the contest is going on; needless to say, Miz Adeline is not going to get a birthday cake. A funny and satisfying resolution reveals that Miz Adeline has an unsuspected talent herself, as well as a childhood rivalry of her own. The appealing cartoon-style illustrations highlight a strong sense of community in Kameeka’s Harlem neighborhood, showing a wide range of distinctive characters and places. They are likely to draw children right into that world, and there’s a lot to notice there, from the pictures on Kameeka’s living room wall to signs in shop windows to the hula-hooping figure on the traffic “walk” light.