This book nicely helps young readers process a common concern even though the illustrations and text contain a few awkward...

MY TEACHER'S NOT HERE!

A group of schoolchildren are apprehensive about spending a school day with a substitute teacher, but they manage to get through with help from one another.

The narrator, a cat, arrives at school only to find that beloved Miss Seabrooke is gone for the day. But Miss Seabrooke left a comforting note on the whiteboard for the class, and it encourages the cat to seek help from her friends, to be kind to her classmates, and to give the substitute a chance. In general, Battuz’s hand-drawn and digitally collaged illustrations are sweet. Miss Seabrooke is perfectly rendered as a capable hen caretaker. However, some illustrations may strike readers as odd. On multiple pages, readers see the substitute, a giraffe, only from the waist down even though he’s often depicted in full on several other pages. Though it seems to be an attempt to show him from the students’ perspective, it feels abrupt, especially with abundant white space or little background on those pages. The rhyming quatrains flow nicely in general, but the narrator’s tendency to capitalize some is distracting. Some appear to be for emphasis, while others are not so easy to understand. Though school goes well for the cat, the book ends realistically, with an expression of anxiety about who might be teaching the next day.

This book nicely helps young readers process a common concern even though the illustrations and text contain a few awkward quirks. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77138-356-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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