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High Five

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
High Five Book Poster Image
Uneven rhymes make silly hand-slapping contest less fun.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Introduces the concept of a high five in a very silly setting -- a contest where the reader competes against various animals and a sea creature for best high five. Introduces the word "Sensei" for the Yeti teacher coaching the reader on how to win the high five contest.

Positive Messages

"A high five is a handy way/ for happy friends to say "hooray!" Practice, focus, and try hard in competition. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

The high five "Sensei," the Yeti teacher who's coaching the reader, is both funny and encouraging. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that High Five is by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri, the author-illustrator team behind Dragons Love Tacos. This book has their signature wackiness, but goes for a more interactive reading experience, where the reader actually high-fives an animal's hand on the page. The reader competes against several different animals -- from lizard to elephant to octopus and more -- in the 75th Annual High Five Tournament. It's long for a picture book at 64 pages, but thin on story. And the irregular meter and rhyme of the text make this a difficult, frustrating read-aloud.

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What's the story?

No human has ever won the HIGH FIVE Championship of the World, but now, for the 75th Annual High Five Tournament, a Yeti calling himself a Sensei (teacher) of the technique is coaching you, the reader, so you can beat various animals to win the title -- and the hand-shaped trophy. After some practice -- in which the reader slaps an animal's palm drawn on the page -- you're ready for the big day, where you face animal competitors, a panel of three animal judges, and an audience of animals. 

Is it any good?

This silly picture book about a made-up tournament of the made-up sport of the high five may be fun for preschoolers who enjoy slapping animal palms on the page, but the joke gets old fast. The first half of this overlong book gives unnecessary, overlong instructions about how to do a high five, which aren't  that funny. And the second half gives an overlong play-by-play of the individual matches involving the human reader vs. specific animals. But they all wind the same way, so there's no real suspense. And, spoiler alert, the human wins in the end. So how will that pattern stand up to repeated readings? 

The most disappointing aspect of High Five is the irregular rhyme and meter. Many of the rhymes are only approximate, like "size" and "five," "face" and "phrase,"  "wins" and "begin." And the rhythm and meter of each line is not consistent, so the person reading out loud will anticipate a rhythm on a following line but then get tripped up when a word or its syllables don't fit that meter. This makes for a challenging and unsatisfying read-aloud experience for both reader and listener.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the made-up tournament in High Five. Is it fun to pretend you're competing against animals? Which one is the hardest to beat? 

  • When do you usually high five someone? In a sports game? On the playground? At home? Can you really have different styles of a high five? 

  • For the art in High Five, the illustrator uses colored pencils. Draw your own picture with colored pencils, if you have them. Is it hard using colored pencils to draw fur on a big animal? Would crayons, watercolor paints, or colored markers make it easier? What's your favorite thing to draw with?

Book details

For kids who love picture books and poetry

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