Whets the appetite for cake rather than reading.

EVERY CAKE HAS A STORY

A dream of pastries transforms a town.

In the monochromatic town of Samesville, everything is the same: “black and white and gray.” The only cake on offer is vanilla with chocolate frosting. Sammi, the White protagonist, puts her recipe card under her pillow, makes a wish that “things were NOT the same,” and has a dream filled with riotous color and magical confections—and just like that, the town is awash with bright hues and everyone has the ability to create thrilling baked goods. The title page helpfully adds that the author is “of Milk Bar” (but not so helpfully fails to explain that this is a restaurant chain offering inventive desserts). This perhaps explains why this story feels uncomfortably narrowed in on baked goods—not quite like an advertisement but also not quite a story. There are tremendous leaps of faith required: that a wholly undeveloped character would spontaneously break out of all-encompassing conformity and that putting a recipe card under a pillow could have such transformative effects. To be effective, this setting (reminiscent of the film Pleasantville) requires far more worldbuilding than it’s given, meaning that the emotional tenor is similarly muted. The Wizard of Oz–like transition from black-and-white to rainbow is visually striking but can’t make up for the lackluster storytelling. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Whets the appetite for cake rather than reading. (recipe) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11068-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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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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