In this relatable account, a child’s struggles to draw turn to triumph.

I CAN'T DRAW

What makes a good drawing? Accuracy or embellishment?

This ode to the triumphs and difficulties of drawing opens with the step-by-step construction of a cat. A child named Max then proclaims, “I can’t draw!” Wadded-up scraps of paper on the ground are signs of Max’s frustration as they display their efforts at creating a space cat and a horse. Sorta. In contrast is the horse that Max’s friend Eugene has drawn, a prancing, beautifully rendered equine. Max proceeds to offer Eugene cupcakes in exchange for lessons, which Eugene does, first by giving Max a book and then by working side by side with Max on landscapes, animals, and self-portraits. Alas, only tracing improves Max’s efforts. But Max and their imagination carry the day as the child proceeds to jazz up Eugene’s precise renderings, adding dinosaurs, lasers, and robots—unpolished but attention-grabbing additions. Whether they can draw well or just love to draw, children will enjoy the efforts and friendship of the two round-faced characters. Max’s work is rendered in crayon and Eugene’s work in graphite pen. Additional, colorful illustrations are done with colored pencils, pastels, and ink. All are child-friendly and appealing, reflecting both characters’ talents and passions. Coming full circle, the book concludes with Max’s personalized step-by-step instructions for drawing a cat. Max is light-skinned and bespectacled; Eugene is dark-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In this relatable account, a child’s struggles to draw turn to triumph. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9341-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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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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