A well-intentioned homily in which tolerance and kindness overcome bullying, but the tone is cloying and the message feels...

THE STORY OF AND

THE LITTLE WORD THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

A little girl counts how many times the word “and” appears in her books and demonstrates to the adults in her life how important that little word can be.

She narrates supposedly old tales about shapes. A circle is insulted by a line until the cheerful uppercase AND, referred to as female, comes along “so simple and sure” and announces ‘Yes, we can!” and joins their hands (not pictured in the illustrations), and voilà, they form a balloon. A rectangle insults a triangle, bringing the chirpy AND again, joining them to make a seesaw. A rectangle and a square are joined to make a house, an oval and a line form musical notes, and a cylinder and an octagon form a table for people to gather in community. The rhyming tale is disjointed, with a particularly preachy conclusion, and the subtitle is quite misleading. Rothenberg’s very bright cartoons enhance the tale, with the depiction of AND varied and charming, especially when seen from a distance. But the illustrations have their own deficiencies. The rectangle that meets the triangle is extremely elongated and appears to be nearly identical to the rather wide line that joins with the oval. There is a link to download a song based on the tale. The child who begins it all appears white; some of the adults in her life are people of color.

A well-intentioned homily in which tolerance and kindness overcome bullying, but the tone is cloying and the message feels forced. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947888-05-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flyaway Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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