A harmonious twist on an old favorite with bonus action songs.

VOLE AND TROLL

Readers will need to tune their voices before meeting Troll, who guards the bridge leading to “the tastiest grass in the valley.”

When Vole arrives to cross, Troll sings a challenge in his clear, deep voice: “Troll-dee-roll, I’m a troll, / And my favorite food is vole. / With a knick-knack, paddywhack, / Better pay the toll, / or you’ll end up in my bowl!” But hungry Vole can’t pay, and the battle of wits begins. Luckily, Troll knows only one song, so Vole teaches him a new one. Three times, Troll gets so caught up in each new action song—children will recognize these storytime standards and join in—Vole teaches him that the anthropomorphic creature successfully sneaks over the bridge for “a feast of grassy greens.” But on Vole’s fourth visit, Troll snatches him by the tail. Knowing he is destined for Troll’s bowl, Vole begs for one last Troll song. In an unexpected twist, Vole joins “in with a sweet, high harmony,” and together they fill “the valley with music so enchanting that fish [spring] from the creek, flapping their fins with pleasure….Even the songbirds [hush] to listen.” Understandably, as part of their new friendship, Vole insists on rewriting Troll’s challenge song. Watercolor, colored pencil, and ink illustrations enhance the emotional subtext to this revised fairy tale.

A harmonious twist on an old favorite with bonus action songs. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-58089-885-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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