With the right listener, every story feels urgent. This book makes every reader a listener.

MY STORY FRIEND

Telling someone your story is a little like describing a dream.

“When I was a child, / my own story / made me very sad,” the narrator says, early in this picture book. At first, he has trouble finding anyone to listen to him; he keeps warning people, “I might cry when I tell it.” But the old woman who tells stories in his village turns out to be a very good listener. His story is both very sad and very simple: He is short. “I don’t like ME!” he explains, and adds, “I can’t tell my mother or father or anyone in my family because they don’t mind being short.” His story feels, like many dreams, both a little anticlimactic and like the most important thing in the world. The climax may affect readers not when they first read it but later, when they’ve had time to think about it. The narrator comes to realize, movingly, that, like the members of his family, he can be “brave and strong and kind.” The illustrations are haunting, a surprising combination of line drawings and painterly backgrounds. They look like chalk pictures, if chalk could draw on the water or the night sky. The main characters are all light-skinned, but the background characters have a wider variety of skin tones. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-16-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

With the right listener, every story feels urgent. This book makes every reader a listener. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3688-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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