Subtle, joyous, affirming.

JEROME BY HEART

Two little boys share an intense friendship.

Narrator Raphael “loves Jerome”—saying it is “easy.” Raphael doesn’t understand why his mother dismisses Jerome as “charming” or why his father says “it’s ‘a pity’ that Jerome doesn’t play soccer.” Jerome “always sees” Raphael, shares snacks, defends Raphael against bullies, and tells great stories. Spending a day with Jerome is pure nourishment for Raphael: “By lunch, we’ve laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. And by dinner, I’ve stocked up enough of Jerome to last me the whole night.” Tallec’s loose line-and-watercolor paintings use gentle humor to introduce them, placing the two boys on bikes, side by side and hand in hand, in front of a line of clearly slowly moving cars: So happy are they that they do not notice. He situates the two boys in scenes suffused in warm colors, their body language mirroring each other’s, as do their pale skin and round, red heads. But when Raphael’s parents get uptight about this bond, the palette darkens to cold, lonely blues. The text is open enough that readers will take what they need from the story. Some children will see simply two very good friends, while others will see validation of feelings they may not know how to express, particularly if their parents are as hostile as Raphael’s. Raphael gives them the language they need: “I say—yes. Raphael loves Jerome. I say it. It’s easy.”

Subtle, joyous, affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-59270-250-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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