Artistic expression clashes with classroom discipline, and neither is the winner.

RUBY ROSE

OFF TO SCHOOL SHE GOES

Dance should be a 24/7 activity—or so believes one young fan.

A little girl, clad in fashionable fuchsia, has a total dance mindset. “Dancing is a big part of me!” Starting school, meeting her teacher, and classroom activities all translate into dance routines as Ruby arabesques, pirouettes, and promenades in front of her disapproving teacher and a shushing librarian. Mere lines are not for Ruby’s class. They tap dance to lunch, where Ruby leaps and cancans with her tray. Finally quieting down, Ruby asks her teacher when they will dance. Hearing that there just isn’t time for dance at school, Ruby jumps up in horror and upsets a very large ant farm—causing everyone, including the teacher, to dance frantically about. Ruby feels vindicated and suffers no pangs of guilt or concern at what she has wrought. Dance is certainly an important art and should be part of a curriculum, but Ruby unfortunately takes her enthusiasm, bordering on obsession, to an unpleasant extreme. The digitally rendered artwork depicts children and teachers of diverse colors if not facial features, but the sketchy figures, which are outlined in black and set against a white background, give the pages a slapdash, unfinished look.

Artistic expression clashes with classroom discipline, and neither is the winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-223569-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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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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