There is meanness and bullying at every level in schools, and it needs to be addressed in stories as well as in real life,...

WILLOW FINDS A WAY

From the Willow series

Shy Willow stands up to a mean girl in her primary-grade classroom.

Kristabelle is the boss of the class that Willow is in, and when she invites everyone to her birthday party, Willow is thrilled. But if a classmate won’t sit at her lunch table or play what she wants at recess, she will cross them off her birthday list. Mateo won’t give up his turn as Line Leader, so Kristabelle crosses him off; Julian won’t wear pink when Kristabelle demands it, so the blonde, curly-headed girl crosses him off, too. Willow then bravely crosses her own name off, and so do all her friends, leaving Kristabelle alone. But Willow sits with the formerly mean girl when no one else will. Kristabelle apologizes to the whole class, and everyone comes to her party and has a fine time. The illustrations, brightly colored on white backgrounds, with figures sketched in the simplest of lines and dots, depict an ethnically mixed classroom of children. Putting aside the sexism inherent in only boys being blacklisted (or at least, the only ones willing to stand up to Kristabelle), it’s all too easily resolved, even for the second-graders this seems to be aimed at.

There is meanness and bullying at every level in schools, and it needs to be addressed in stories as well as in real life, but they must be honest stories in which the lesson does not outweigh the tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-842-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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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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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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