A STONE FOR SASCHA

Memorable and moving.

After laying her beloved dog to rest, a girl finds peace with a smooth stone that has traveled the world through the ages, in this wordless picture book by Becker.

A young black girl collects flowers for her dog’s grave before the family leaves for vacation. At their campsite, they set up by the shore. Night is falling as the girl finds a smooth stone at the water’s edge. A pictorial transition leads to depictions of the stone’s formation under the earth as dinosaurs roamed. When the stone, enormous in the beginning, protrudes from the earth, it is carried to an ancient royal building and carved. Wars, looting, decay, and repurposing send the stone from one civilization to another, to be used in a religious monument, a bridge, a work of art. The golden stone seems to glow against the shades of gray and beige in the historical scenes, and again against the dark purple and mauve of the night at camp. When a voyage ends in a shipwreck, the stone sinks to the bottom of the sea and is later carried to shore, where the girl finds it. She looks at peace as she presses the stone to her face, eyes closed. In the final scene, the stone sits on the dog’s burial mound as the girl and her brother play. Readers will be enticed to explore this book’s beautiful, dreamlike pictures, and the message of healing will comfort many who have known loss.

Memorable and moving. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6596-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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