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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
The Perfect Swish is a children’s animal picture book written by Brynn Hochman and illustrated by Dustin Burkes-Larranaga. The jungle court was the place to be every Sunday morning. The five friends who played there were all different, but on the court they all became a unified and powerful team. There was Cheetah, who never seemed to stop darting around as she played; Bear, whose broad and muscular shape made him the perfect guard; Monkey, an unparalleled expert at sinking shots; and Kanga, a brilliant center even if he didn’t have confidence yet in his hopping skills. The fifth friend, Rabbit, always worked the sidelines. He knew his pals needed hydration in the hot summer sun, and he was an expert at getting them their water bottles. Rabbit knew instinctively how to toss those bottles directly to his teammates. No one ever went thirsty as their water bunny always was there with a bottle when it was needed. But then something happened during a big game -- one team member was down and out -- and Coach Fox needed a replacement. Rabbit was a natural and the perfect stand-in, but would he do it?
The Perfect Swish is both exciting and inspiring. I loved the action and sense of motion the author gives to this scene of animals playing basketball, especially how she makes Rabbit, who is wheelchair-bound, an essential part of the team. The upbeat and positive message the book conveys is such an important one for kids who may feel as if they’re not as good as their peers, either for their height, confidence, or being differently abled. Rabbit's and Kanga’s stories will resonate with kids who may need that extra bit of encouragement to go out and sink the perfect swish. Dustin Burkes-Larranaga’s illustrations are superb. His animal characters are hip and cool, and you can easily forgo reality and see them as a basketball-playing team. His brilliant color themes and clever facial expressions make each picture work so very well. This book is a grand selection for story-time, but it’s also quite suitable for young readers to try on their own. The Perfect Swish is most highly recommended.