Kids who have never been to school will surely look forward to all the fun depicted here.

SCHOOL DAYS

Photos of diverse children give readers a peek at a typical school day.

Rotner and Kelly’s text provides a framework for the day from the perspectives of the children: “We meet on the rug to plan the day. / We check our jobs. / I mark the calendar. / I show the weather.” The photos show sights recognizable in North American elementary school classrooms: the gathering-area rug, the calendar, the job chart. Other pages are devoted to things kids are working on learning and subjects they enjoy, free-time activities they choose, specials classes and what they do there, lunch choices, recess, field trips, and how schools can differ—some have gardens; others might have class pets. Though almost every picture shows smiling faces, one spread is devoted to days that “don’t go right”—a teacher helps when a child’s feelings are hurt, and a nurse provides a bandage after a fall. Rotner’s photos are by far the big draw, each spread showing off two to five colorful pictures, many staged but still appealing. The children here are diverse in almost every way—kids may be skinny, plump, or way taller than their peers and of many racial presentations. Hairstyles vary widely. There are a few children wearing glasses, but there are no other visible disabilities.

Kids who have never been to school will surely look forward to all the fun depicted here. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-5776-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking.

I'M NOT SCARED, YOU'RE SCARED

Unlikely friends Bear and Rabbit face fears together.

The anthropomorphic creatures set out on an adventure. Graphic-based illustrations give the book a Pixar movie feel, with a variety of page layouts that keep the story moving. Large blocks of black text are heavy on dialogue patterns as timid Bear and bold Rabbit encounter obstacles. Bear fears every one of them, from the stream to the mountain. He’ll do anything to avoid the objects of terror: taking a bus, a train, and even a helicopter. As Rabbit asks Bear if he’s frightened, Bear repeatedly responds, “I’m not scared, you’re scared!” and children will delight in the call-and-response opportunities. Adults may tire of the refrain, but attempts to keep everyone entertained are evident in asides about Bear's inability to brush food from his teeth (he’s too afraid to look at himself in the mirror) and Rabbit's superstrong ears (which do come in handy later). When Rabbit finds herself in danger after Bear defects on the adventure, Bear retraces the trip. Along the way, he notes that the stream wasn't as deep, nor the mountain as high, as he thought when he was scared. While picture-book shelves may not be screaming for another comedically sweet bear story, especially one that treads such familiar territory, many readers will appreciate this tale of overcoming fears. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Energetic and earnest but not groundbreaking. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35237-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

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This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash.

JABARI JUMPS

Young Jabari decides today is the day he is going to jump from the diving board, even though it’s a little high and a little scary.

Jabari’s father and baby sister accompany him to the swimming pool in the city, where Jabari has already made up his mind about today’s goal: jumping off the diving board. “I’m a great jumper,” he says, “so I’m not scared at all.” But that’s not entirely true. Readers see Jabari play the waiting game as the other children (a diverse bunch) make their ways past him in line. Once Jabari finally begins to climb up, he slyly remembers that he forgot to “stretch.” The stalling techniques don’t faze his dad, who sees an opportunity for a life lesson. “It’s okay to feel a little scared,” offers his dad at the side of the pool. With renewed will, Jabari returns to the towering diving board, ready to embrace the feat. In her debut, Cornwall places her loving black family at the center, coloring the swimming pool and park beyond in minty hues and adding whimsy with digitally collaged newspaper for skyscrapers. A bird’s-eye view of Jabari’s toes clinging to the edge of the diving board as he looks way, way down at the blue pool below puts readers in his head and in the action.

This simple and sincere tale of working up courage to face fears makes quite a splash. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7838-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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