A book to broaden collections about families.

JUST RIGHT FAMILY

AN ADOPTION STORY

Meili thinks her multiracial, adoptive family is just right as it is, and she doesn’t want her parents to adopt a new baby sister.

Meili’s parents—Mama, who appears white with light skin and blonde hair, and Papa, depicted as a man of color with medium-brown skin and curly dark hair—adopted her from China. She’s secure in their love and likes to hear them tell her, “We looked in our hearts and saw you there,” when they share her adoption story. But when they tell her they’ve seen another baby girl in their hearts and they need to go to Haiti to adopt her, Meili is distressed. Her parents involve her in preparations for the baby, and her teacher (who has light-brown skin) offers encouragement, too. But it’s Meili’s grandmother, depicted as a white woman, who provides the most comfort while caring for Meili when her parents travel to Haiti. When they return with baby Sophie (who has dark-brown skin and curly, short-cropped, dark hair) Meili welcomes her as a sister. She tells her what they’ll do together, naming activities she’d previously enjoyed alone with her parents. Although there’s sadly no mention of birth families in this story (only vague references to the girls’ “need[ing] new homes”) the affirming vision of adoptive sibling bonding is welcome.

A book to broaden collections about families. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8075-4082-4

Page Count: 37

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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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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