Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Cannonball Book Poster Image
Warm story of individuality and achieving a perfect splash.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Lots of word repetition for beginning readers. A small glossary of diving terms and Maori vocabulary at the end.

Positive Messages

Listen to your heart and trust yourself to know what's best for you.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nan's love and support is constant.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cannonball, by Sacha Cotter, is a gentle, fun, uplifting story of a Maori child trying to figure out how to do an epic cannonball. Josh Morgan's colorful, vibrant illustrations make the child's feelings jump off the page: Disappointment and shame when his cannonball fails again in front of a crowd, steadfast support from his feisty grandmother who tells him to "do it your way, all the way," and delight when he realizes she's right. The words have a wonderful rhythm, helping emerging readers grasp more advanced text. There's a glossary at the end of the book, with Maori words and all of Nan's fun diving terms explained.

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What's the story?

CANNONBALL is the story of a young Maori child trying to learn how to do the perfect cannonball. Everyone around him has advice for how to fix the fact that even his belly flops only produce a tiny splash, and nothing works. But everything changes when his fearless Nan advises him to listen to his own voice, find his own style, and be himself.

Is it any good?

Beyond this book's inspiring message of individuality and persistence, there's a rhythm to the writing here that amplifies the message and makes the text more accessible to early readers. Nan's advice to listen to the voice inside and not to rely on others for a solution is reassuring, and there's a sweet sadness to the scene where he's curled up on her lap, disappointed. Cannonball's colorful pages and perfectly captured facial expressions and transport readers to the end of the diving board (or on a rock, a branch, or play structure), where they can relate to finding the courage to jump -- and hoping for an epic landing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about an obstacle like Cannonball that they've been nervous to try. Did you listen to other people's advice? What helped you finally do it, or are you still trying?

  • What advice have you given to other people when they're trying something new?

  • What other books about fun in water have you read?

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