Though thoughtful, thought-provoking, and filled with engaging language, this allegorical tale may struggle to find an...

THE TOWN OF TURTLE

A solitary turtle creates a community atop his shell.

According to the lyrical text, “Turtle lived in a part of the world as empty as a bird’s nest in December.” The accompanying double-page illustration, created in acrylic, paper, and pencil collage, shows a small gray planet, about 10 times larger than the turtle perched on it, floating in a dark sky surrounded by a sea of stars. With only his shadow to talk to, Turtle is lonely. He spends most of his time inside his shell, dreaming of a happier life. Having pictured a “better home,” he resolves to build it. Across several pages, Turtle (somewhat disconcertingly) slips out of his shell to paint, construct, and expand an elaborate environment on it. Blocky shapes, occasional splashes of vivid color, and unusual juxtapositions create a dreamlike quality that suits the fanciful premise. As he rests from his labors, new residents appear. “A painter, a sailor, and a ballerina came first.” These anthropomorphic animals are followed by an array of others representing an eclectic variety of occupations. A gatefold that requires a 90-degree turn of the book shows Turtle’s delight when he wakes to discover the town atop his shell is inhabited, but the resolution may seem less than satisfying since the turtle and the new arrivals don’t truly interact.

Though thoughtful, thought-provoking, and filled with engaging language, this allegorical tale may struggle to find an appreciative audience. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-74982-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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