A bright, sweet story about friendship, teamwork, and the joy of soccer.

WE PLAY SOCCER / JUGAMOS EL FÚTBOL

On a beautiful sunny day, two young boys experience the twists and turns of a soccer game.

Joe warmly greets José as he walks onto the soccer field. They eagerly show off their red uniforms and cleats, then practice keep-ups, juggling soccer balls on their knees. Their enthusiasm is palpable, but when the match begins, they aren’t chosen as starting players. A female coach benches the boys, and though they’re sad at first, the game soon absorbs their attention as they cheer on their teammates. Only when it begins to look like their team might lose are they called onto the field, much to their delight, and the match draws to an exciting conclusion. The story is told entirely through the boys’ dialogue, which appears in speech bubbles. Joe speaks exclusively in English and José, exclusively in Spanish. It’s not clear whether the boys can also speak each other’s languages, and poignantly, it doesn’t matter. The kids clearly understand each other, using body language and context to bolster verbal communication. The bilingual sentence repetition (“I pass the ball to José / Goal! / ¡Gol! / Le paso la pelota a Joe”) creates a realistic and seamless narrative that young children can easily follow while developing both English and Spanish skills. The illustrations are vibrant, and characters are depicted as having various shades of light brown skin. Backmatter helpfully provides direct translations of words that appear in the story.

A bright, sweet story about friendship, teamwork, and the joy of soccer. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4506-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A full-hearted valentine.

THIS IS A SCHOOL

A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.”

NOODLE AND THE NO BONES DAY

Graziano tells the story of his TikTok-famous pug, Noodle.

Noodle is a silly, stubborn old pug who likes walks and snacks. “He’s a pug who knows what he wants.” Jonathan, his light-skinned owner, loves taking Noodle for walks and sharing snacks—they are a perfect pair. But one day, when it’s time for a walk, Noodle just lies in his dog bed. Even when Jonathan tries to make Noodle sit up, Noodle flops back down. “It’s like he doesn’t have bones!” says Jonathan. Noodle doesn’t seem sick—he just wants snacks and to stay in bed. Finally, Jonathan asks if Noodle would just like to snuggle instead and receives a strong affirmative from the drowsy pug. Together Noodle and his human enjoy a relaxing “no bones day” and learn an important lesson about rest and why it matters for silly, stubborn old pugs and for the humans who love them, too. Many may already be familiar with Noodle through his TikTok videos (if Noodle remains standing when Graziano lifts him, it’s a “bones day”; among Noodle’s followers, a “no bones day” has come to mean a day for self-care and taking it easy). However, this story stands alone and will likely create new fans for a long time to come. Hand-drawn and painted digitally, Tavis’ illustrations rely on a muted palette and rounded images, depicting an appropriately cozy world. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A perfect story to enjoy on a “no bones day.” (author's note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66592-710-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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