An ode to reading that raises too many concerns.

PLEASE, LOUISE

A young girl sets out on a solitary walk to a surprise destination.

With rain threatening, a little girl leaves home by herself wearing bright yellow boots and a slicker. The streets are filled with fearful sights and sounds—a barking dog, a darkened house, a junkyard and a statue of a bird of prey. But then light and shelter from the storm fill the pages as Louise enters a well-stocked library where “Imagination is an open door. / Step in here and let it soar.” Louise comfortably stretches out on a rainbow-hued floor to read before walking home, passing the now-friendly dog and people sitting on the steps of the house, now shining brightly in the sun. She sits in front of her own house surrounded by books and then goes inside to settle herself in a cozy window seat to read. The Morrisons, mother and son, write in rhyming couplets with the message firmly hammered home: “[B]ooks can teach and please Louise.” Adult readers may find this disconcerting: A child alone on dark and scary streets finds comfort solely from books (even library staff are nowhere to be seen). Strickland’s watercolor-and-gouache paintings are delicate, detailed and beautiful. Louise is a lovely child and a poster girl for reading. Still, that there appear to be no caring adults in her world is troubling.

An ode to reading that raises too many concerns. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8338-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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