Powerful in its vulnerability.

TOUGH LIKE MUM

Kim is tough, just like her mum.

But today Mum’s staying in bed, with the blanket wrapped tightly around her. Kim pulls her thumb out of her mouth (before Mum can see it there) and gets up to start the day. She prepares her lunch bag and checks her homework. Almost ready. But Mum forgot to sign Kim’s field-trip form! “Don’t start on me, Kim!” says Mum, who’s still curled up in bed. What can Kim do? Grab some spare change for the field trip. Not enough to cover the $6, but “maybe Mrs. Jones won’t notice.” The school day brings its pleasures and pains—Mrs. Jones does call out the incomplete form—but Kim keeps her composure, like Mum seems to do. Returning home, Kim sees that Mum’s “at the table wearing what she slept in last night.” Maybe some tomato soup can help. “Eat. You’ll feel better,” insists Kim. It’s a small gesture, but it finally cuts through the gloom that surrounds her mum. Button elevates these tender moments thanks to a keen sense of compassion for her characters, underlining that even the most seemingly mundane moments can have an impact. Buried within this showcase of a loving mother-daughter relationship is the potential catharsis of grappling with accepting help. Mok’s compassionate gouache artwork—full of muted colors, gently curving lines, and arresting facial expressions—enfolds this tale in its earnest embrace. Mostly light-skinned characters fill out the cast, including Kim and her mum. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 82% of actual size.)

Powerful in its vulnerability. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6598-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 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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