This book is such a breath of fresh air for early readers and, especially, for the people who love them.
Perhaps I just haven’t been reading the right books with my kids, but most of the books written for this market tend to feature either really smarmy or really annoying characters, often repeating things (as they need to in order to strengthen reading recognition) in ways that feel artificial. I Hop does not have any of these problems, leaning perfectly into its verbally minimalist vibe to get the story across while managing to be charming through and through.
The book begins with a boy and his dad coming across a pogo stick at a garage sale. After putting on a helmet and learning how to use his new contraption, the boy hops all over town, ending with a heartwarming scene of intergenerational affection. In fairness, I did have one tiny criticism of the book: I really wanted pancakes from about the middle of the volume onward. I thought that was a me-problem until my eldest glanced over while I was reading this with his younger brothers, and immediately asked if there were any pancakes in this book. Maybe it’s just in our genetics, ha.
Said younger brothers very much enjoyed reading this aloud without any help from me. The twins both have a language delay, so the level was just right for them. Joseph enjoyed the hopping parts best, tho Theo, like myself, most enjoyed the eating part. They both appreciated a protagonist who looks like them as well: we might not be Latine, but we’re certainly brown and very much appreciate the representation of people who look like us living their best lives.
Joe Cepeda’s art is tremendous throughout, utilizing a style of vibrant pastels to bring to life our protagonist’s adventures. I also really liked the use of the multi-colored strands in the background, that gave a unifying feel to the panels of this delightful picture book. Little wonder that this volume was a 2022 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honoree (tho honestly, give me this instead of a Dr Seuss book any time.)
I Hop by Joe Cepeda was published November 30 2021 by Holiday House and is available from all good booksellers, including