It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

THE THANK YOU LETTER

Young Grace gives and then receives letters of love and gratitude.

After an exuberant birthday party filled with diverse kids in elaborate costumes, Grace sits down to write thank-you letters for her gifts, depicted in Cabrera’s trademark, childlike style. There’s always a bit of dissonance when an adult approximates children’s art, but these are reasonable, not-too-cloying facsimiles. Grace’s messages are just right, especially when acknowledging that while a gift might not have been perfect (she receives a toy dog rather than a living pup; gloves are too large), she’s thankful nonetheless. Upon finishing, she carries on, sending gratitude to teachers, pets, and members of her diverse community. (Grace herself has light skin and straight, dark hair.) Cabrera’s books tend to feel satisfyingly cohesive, and this is no exception. Grace returns home to dozens of love letters sent back to her pinned inside her brand-new play tent, and the whole thing cozily wraps with Grace holding a metafictive sign thanking the readers of this book. At times, the book tries too hard to be positive—where’s the whining about completing what many children regard as a chore?—and Grace’s ever present grin and dotted pink cheeks make her appear excessively dolllike, even cutesy. But the animated art style, with deeply textured acrylic colors in invitingly warm colors and cheery scrapbook paper collage, buoys the effort.

It’s sentimental to be sure, but who can’t use a gentle nudge to remember manners? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4250-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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