Friendships do indeed come in all shapes and sizes.

BUTTERCUP THE BIGFOOT

A youngster with a penchant for howling finds the perfect companion.

Willa Cathcart Wilmerding is bold and clever. She climbs supertall trees, befriends arachnids, and can even spell the word “H-E-L-I-C-O-P-T-E-R.” But every Friday night, Willa climbs to the roof of her house and howls at the moon. It doesn’t have anything to do with werewolves—she just enjoys howling. (The howls tumble and stretch across the pages as she bellows.) When her mom admonishes her, Willa decides to run away to the mountains where she can howl in peace. However, the mountains are also where Bigfoot lives. And Bigfoot likes to howl just as much as Willa. (This particular version is shaggy, pink, and female.) After a bit of a standoff, the two become fast friends. Willa decides to name her new friend Buttercup. But when Willa’s mom comes on a helicopter and tells her she misses her, sadly the pair is separated. The convenient wrap-up involves the woolly creature’s arrival in the city, where she joins Willa’s life. Everything seems a bit off-kilter (why does Willa howl? Why is her skin tinted blue, with schoolmates having a variety of normal and outlandish tones?), but the romp skims along the surface to simply tell a quirky story of friendship. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 36.5% of actual size.)

Friendships do indeed come in all shapes and sizes. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20934-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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