Cozy—and potentially provocative.

WINTERCAKE

A snowstorm, a missing basket of fruit, a misunderstanding, and an act of kindness lead to a warm winter tradition.

Thomas, a light-brown furry creature (maybe a groundhog), tells his yellow-feathered friend Lucy that he must have misplaced the basket that contained the fruit he’d intended to bake into his winter cake. “How mysterious,” Lucy says when Thomas tells her about the basket. But Lucy must hurry to get home, as the snow has begun to fall thickly, and she flies off into the wind. She collides with a tree branch and is momentarily stunned, then takes shelter in a cozy tea room to recover. There, everyone is talking about the weather except for one dark brown–furred fellow (perhaps a pine marten) who mentions that he’s found a basket of fruit. Lucy leaps to conclusions and trails him as he departs, all the way to Thomas’ door, where he reunites Thomas and basket. Lucy is embarrassed by her suspicious thoughts. The simple story of her realization and her attempt to make amends is told in deliciously rich language so porous it opens up glorious possibilities for the illustrations: “there were obstacles.” Perkins’ art, with its warm yellows, opulent blues, and soft browns of wintry forest and cozy dens, nicely complements the fine narrative arc. This could simply be a splendid holiday tale: There is cake, after all, and there are both connection and community. But the different colorings of the animals’ coats combine with light-feathered Lucy’s false, if unspoken, accusation of innocent, dark-brown Tobin to offer an allegorical storyline for readers who care to pursue it.

Cozy—and potentially provocative. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289487-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

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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