In the words of Motor Mouse himself, “QUITE ACCEPTABLE”—actually, more than quite.

MOTOR MOUSE

Pie, cake, ice cream, popcorn, and bowling only hint at the pleasures to be found in three effervescent little stories.

Motor Mouse is a hardworking rodent, and when it comes to his downtime, he certainly knows how to relax. In “The Friday Cake Day” a catastrophic inaccessibility of delights (read: a closed cake shop) leads to new vistas as the titular hero and his friend Telly (an otter) discover the wide and wonderful world of pie. In “Going for a Look-About,” Motor Mouse cedes driving control to a raccoon cabbie so that he can take his eyes off the road for once. Finally, in “Front Row at the Picture Show,” a long-standing grudge involving a popcorn-hogging brother comes to a head with satisfactory results. Rylant’s grasp of succinct storytelling is on full display. Wry understatement (the pie is deemed by Motor Mouse and Telly to be “QUITE ACCEPTABLE,” while an arrangement whereby two brothers share a single bucket of popcorn “had not worked for years. And it was not working this Saturday, either”) creates memorable characters with minimal syllables. Howard’s art too, honed on the author’s 27 Mr. Putter & Tabby books, deftly balances heart, humor, and the occasional magnificent burst of pathos.

In the words of Motor Mouse himself, “QUITE ACCEPTABLE”—actually, more than quite. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9126-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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