A cute twist on both the farm and school themes.

TURKEY GOES TO SCHOOL

From the Turkey Trouble series , Vol. 5

Turkey is excited and ready for the first day of school—but will they let the farm animals in?

The farm children, Max and Millie, both White, are “superexcited” for the first day of school. The farm animals have heard all about it, and they are excited too—especially Turkey, who drills the other animals on their school skills as the big day approaches. But when the school bus arrives, the animals are told to stay at the farm. They hitch a ride in a pickup and spend the whole day devising different plans to get inside the school building. Turkey tries disguising himself as a backpack, a book, a cafeteria worker, and even a soccer ball, but he is always discovered and sent out. Finally, the animals learn how to use the first-week-of-school theme, “Farm Days,” to their advantage. The text is full of silly puns and animal sounds that liven up the reading. The animals’ outsider perspective on the classroom full of children having an exciting day of learning and fun is an entertaining thought experiment for young children, though animal lovers may balk at the exclusion of the hopeful barn dwellers. The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations feature quirky characters with wide eyes and expressive features and a relatively diverse class of children. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute twist on both the farm and school themes. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2364-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life.

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BE YOU!

An inspirational picture book offers life advice for readers who want to be themselves.

Replete with sparkling, often quirky illustrations of children living their best lives, this book is a gorgeous guidebook for those seeking encouragement while encountering life’s challenges. The children featured—a racially diverse group ranging from infants to preschoolers—cheerfully navigate the various injunctions that flow through the text: “Be curious.…Be adventurous.…Be persistent.…Be kind.” What is remarkable about the book is that even though the instructions and the brief sentences explaining them are at times vague, the illustrations expand on them in ways readers will find endearing and uplifting. Those depicting painful or challenging moments are especially effective. The “Be persistent” double-page spread shows a child in a boat on stormy seas; it’s rich with deep blues as it emphasizes the energy of wind and rain and struggle in the face of challenge. Together with the accompanying repeated phrase “Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop. Keep going, never stop,” this spread arrests readers. By contrast, the “Be kind. Be understanding” spread simply presents two children’s faces, one cast in blue and the other in gold, but the empathy that Reynolds conveys is similarly captivating. While there is no plot to pull readers through the pages, the book provides rich fodder for caregivers to use as teachable moments, both informally and in classroom settings.

Both beautiful and inspiring as graduation gift or guide to life. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-57231-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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