Imported from France, a whimsical peek at a new experience.

1, 2, 3, OFF TO SCHOOL!

In anticipation of kindergarten next year, a curious child follows their animal neighbors to each of their schools for the day.

Pom, a White child with a pointy, red hat who lives in a tree, may not start kindergarten until next year, but their animal friends have told them all about their schools. With their schoolbag packed and a new pair of shoes, Pom sets off on an adventure to check out the schools for themself. Starting with the busy mice, Pom then visits rabbits, frogs, foxes, bears, sloths, squirrels, wolves, turtles, and hedgehogs. Every location introduces a new school-related activity, including bus rides, field trips, music, gym, lunch, napping, cleaning up, and after-school pickup. Apart from Pom, only three other nonanimal characters appear in the illustrations, including Momo (Pom’s caregiver), and all of them have pale pink skin like Pom’s. The narrative does not assign a binary gender to either Pom or Momo. The double-page illustrations, alive with tiny details and references to popular children’s stories, demand up-close exploration. Bits of dialogue scattered across the pages, although not essential to understanding the story, highlight student perspectives about daily routines. Despite the disappointing lack of racial diversity, Pom’s ease and inquisitive nature combine with the distance provided by the focus on animals at school to create a gentle preview of a big life change. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Imported from France, a whimsical peek at a new experience. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5253-0656-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text.

KINDNESS GROWS

Rhyming verses about kindness using a consistent metaphor of widening cracks versus blooming plants are amplified by cutouts on each page.

The art and layout are spectacular, from the cover through the double-page spreads near the end. Racially diverse toddlers are shown engaging in various moods and behaviors, some of which create unhappiness and some of which lead to friendship and happiness. Every page’s color palette and composition perfectly complement the narrative. The initial verso shows two children in aggressive stances, backgrounded by a dark, partly moonlit sky. Between them is a slender, crooked cutout. The large-type text reads: “It all / starts / with a / crack / that we can hardly see. / It happens when we shout / or if we disagree.” The recto shows two children in sunlight, with one offering a pretty leaf to the other, and the rhyme addresses the good that grows from kindness. In this image, the crooked die cut forms the trunk of a tiny sapling. Until the final double-page spreads, the art follows this clever setup: dark deeds and a crack on the left, and good deeds and a growing tree on the right. Unfortunately, the text is far from the equal of the art: It is banal and preachy, and it does not even scan well without some effort on the part of whomever is reading it. Still, the youngest children will solemnly agree with the do’s and don’ts, and they may decide to memorize a page or two.

Exciting artwork paired with disappointingly dull text. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68010-229-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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