A gender-affirming picture book with a lovable, indomitable star.

TÉO'S TUTU

Téo loves to dance, but ballet class makes him nervous.

He and his parents practice their moves to both bhangra and cumbia, both of which are very different from ballet. In the studio, Téo nervously takes his place on the floor. During stretches, a boy makes fun of Téo’s tutu, but their teacher, Ms. Lila, immediately comes to Téo’s defense. For the rest of his first class and during the classes that follow, Téo loses himself in the joy of learning a new skill. The more he practices, the more confident and talented he feels. As the recital approaches, Téo is more and more excited to get on stage—until the costumes arrive. Téo picks out a shirt and pants, just like all the other boys. But he also takes home a lavender tutu, which is the costume he really wants to wear. On recital day, when he has to make a decision, Téo’s family encourages him to wear the clothes that he likes best, emphasizing that at times, being our authentic selves requires us all to be brave. This lyrical book bursts with sincerity without ever feeling preachy or forced. Téo’s parents and his teacher embrace Téo exactly as he is, infusing the story with love and triumph and ensuring that Téo is never reduced to the oppression he faces. Brown-skinned, curly-haired Téo is biracial, with a South Asian mom and Latinx dad, and his enthusiasm leaps from Marley’s artwork on every page. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A gender-affirming picture book with a lovable, indomitable star. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1552-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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...

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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The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited.

LET'S DANCE!

Dancing is one of the most universal elements of cultures the world over.

In onomatopoeic, rhyming text, Bolling encourages readers to dance in styles including folk dance, classical ballet, breakdancing, and line dancing. Read aloud, the zippy text will engage young children: “Tappity Tap / Fingers Snap,” reads the rhyme on the double-page spread for flamenco; “Jiggity-Jig / Zig-zag-zig” describes Irish step dancing. The ballet pages stereotypically include only children in dresses or tutus, but one of these dancers wears hijab. Overall, children included are racially diverse and vary in gender presentation. Diaz’s illustrations show her background in animated films; her active child dancers generally have the large-eyed sameness of cartoon characters. The endpapers, with shoes and musical instruments, could become a matching game with pages in the book. The dances depicted are described at the end, including kathak from India and kuku from Guinea, West Africa. Unfortunately, these explanations are quite rudimentary. Kathak dancers use their facial expressions extensively in addition to the “movements of their hands and their jingling feet,” as described in the book. Although today kuku is danced at all types of celebrations in several countries, it was once done after fishing, an activity acknowledged in the illustrations but not mentioned in the explanatory text.

The snappy text will get toes tapping, but the information it carries is limited. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63592-142-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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