Funny, subtly empowering, and sweet.


An enthusiastic host awaits an invited guest for tea and hopes that everything will be as perfect as the guest herself is.

Abby has much to prepare for her 3 o’clock tea party with Phoebe Dupree, a “perfect” girl who is “brilliant” at science, art, and singing. Abby cleans her dog, Louie, and instructs him on the “perfect” behavior required during Phoebe’s visit. The table is set, the delicate treats are arranged, the stuffed guests are seated, and the guest of honor arrives! Phoebe sits down “oh-so-politely,” and Abby goes to get the tray of treats. But the tray is very heavy…what if the perfect tea becomes a perfect mess? Will the new friendship survive? Abby’s excitement for her upcoming tea and her high-stakes feelings about impressing her new friend are fun and accessible. The text is a well-balanced representation of Abby’s voice in rhyming quartets that glide effortlessly for a smooth read-aloud. The page turns are expertly designed to maximize suspense and drama. Marley’s innocent illustrations combine pink and pearls with wet dogs and cargo pants for a delightful celebration of a broad range of girlhood expressions and experiences. Brown-skinned, casually dressed Phoebe’s large, curly Afro joyfully takes up space on the page while anxious, pale-skinned Abby with her high blonde bun and below-the-knee dress yearns to impress. But who needs perfect when one can have fun?

Funny, subtly empowering, and sweet. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0483-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.


Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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