Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play.

HALF A GIRAFFE?

A young giraffe longs for the best leaves, beyond her reach.

The bright yellow quadruped with brown crayon spots and a neck that’s perfect for sliding down is lucky enough to have many animal friends. In rhyming text and with the help of a wise tortoise, she learns that she can both push herself and lean on her friends to reach the tippy tops of the trees and eat those luscious leaves. Before she accomplishes her goal, the tortoise reminds Gisele of her special personal qualities: “What else do you have? Much more than your spots! / Kindness. And pluck. And a headful of thoughts.” Acknowledging that each animal has different physical traits, the tortoise continues the encouraging message: “You might not have whiskers or armor or wings, / but use what you’ve got; you don’t need those things.” The mixed-media illustrations, with their childlike depictions of animals in an imaginary African savanna scene, carry this book beyond its rhythmic but otherwise fairly pedestrian text. They are joyous, vivid, and funny, especially in one of the climactic spreads, when the animals, large and small, get together to form “a mountain of…animal stairs” for Gisele. Small children also want to accomplish tasks beyond their abilities with the assistance and encouragement of wise and patient grown-ups, and this story will resonate.

Working together, these animal friends are good models for cooperative play. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3144-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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PIRATES DON'T TAKE BATHS

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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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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