The first day of first grade looms, and Little Cliff has sadly lined up his toys to bid goodbye: “ ‘I can’t play with y’all no more. I gotta go to Miss Maxey’s school way down the road, a million miles from here. I know you gonna miss me, ’cause I miss y’all already.’ ” Next morning, great-grandmother Mama Pearl accompanies him to the playground—where he delightedly discovers that, contrary to what the grown-ups around him have been implying, there’s going to be more to school than “work, work, work,” and “quiet, quiet, quiet.” With expert, warmly sympathetic realism, Lewis captures Little Cliff’s hangdog face and body language to perfection; young children having their own qualms about school will readily identify with this reluctant scholar, and so may share his relief at the end as well. It won’t matter that this is set in the rural 50s, a time of lunch buckets and suspenders and brown oxfords. This is some of Lewis’s best work, emotion-laden watercolors capturing an important time and place. There’s something here for older readers to ponder too, in Mama Pearl’s unexplained tears and pride as Little Cliff races off to join his friends in the schoolyard. An affecting sequel to Little Cliff and the Porch People (1999) that was the first to offer some of Taulbert’s characters from his adult memoirs to young readers. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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Henry has graduated from kindergarten, but that doesn’t mean he has necessarily left it behind. When his mother asks how his first day in first grade went, he says, “I didn’t like it because I missed kindergarten.” His mother encourages him to talk about it. As Henry goes about debriefing her, he develops a whole new picture. The teacher was new—and a man!—but he was also a good guy, as evidenced by the fact that he liked Henry’s pet worm. There were new kids, too, but Henry had already made a friend in Oswaldo. There was a cool science corner with a really fast guinea pig (discovered when you just happen to open Curly’s cage door). Minor problems are knit up, a little independence is dispensed and the first day of first grade turns out actually to be pretty neat. Prospective first-graders will find Carlson’s story enormously buoyant, floating those first-day cares away on the backs of her sweet, lopsided characters. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-06127-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2006

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From the Diary of a Pug series , Vol. 1

A cuddly, squishy pug’s puggy-wuggy diary.

Equipped with both #pugunicorn and #pughotdog outfits, pug Baron von Bubbles (aka Bub) is the kind of dog that always dresses to impress. Bub also makes lots of memorable faces, such as the “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!” expression aimed at Duchess, the snooty pink house cat. Some of Bub’s favorite things include skateboarding, a favorite teddy, and eating peanut butter. Bub also loves Bella, who adopted Bub from a fair—it was “love at first sniff.” Together, Bub and Bella do a lot of arts and crafts. Their latest project: entering Bella’s school’s inventor challenge by making a super-duper awesome rocket. But, when the pesky neighborhood squirrel, Nutz, makes off with Bub’s bear, Bub accidentally ruins their project. How will they win the contest? More importantly, how will Bella ever forgive him? May’s cutesy, full-color cartoon art sets the tone for this pug-tastic romp for the new-to–chapter-books crowd. Emojilike faces accentuate Bub’s already expressive character design. Bub’s infectious first-person narration pushes the silly factor off the charts. In addition to creating the look and feel of a diary, the lined paper helps readers follow the eight-chapter story. Most pages have fewer than five sentences, often broken into smaller sections. Additional text appears in color-coded speech bubbles. Bella presents white.

Totes adorbs. (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-53003-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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