Breathtaking in scope, consider this a wordless testament to the power of not just imagination, but art itself; picture...

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QUEST

From the Journey series , Vol. 2

On the coattails of Journey (2013), Becker gleefully expands and details his award-winning fantasyland, growing even more ambitious with his storytelling.

When readers last saw the boy and girl protagonists, they were sharing a tandem bike; this adventure opens with the children sheltering from raindrops under a bridge, the bike propped up against the wall. Suddenly, a desperate king bursts through a door set into the base of the bridge. He charges the two young heroes with collecting the six magic crayons that will defeat his realm’s enemy once and for all. Supplied with a map indicating where the crayons are hidden, the kids find each one (the girl stores them in a crayon bandolier), leading to a showdown with the bad guy that ends with a brilliant, rainbow-hued win for the forces of good. Harold-like, the children use the crayons to draw themselves out of scrapes along the way. Broadening his palette, Becker fills his book with myriad colorful details that will reward sharp-eyed fans. At the same time, his ink and watercolors evoke different kinds of architectural wonders (everything from Atlantis to Chichén Itzá). Part Indiana Jones, part Avatar: The Last Airbender, this book proves to be more exciting than its Caldecott Honor predecessor, emphasizing adventure over evocative metaphor.

Breathtaking in scope, consider this a wordless testament to the power of not just imagination, but art itself; picture books rarely feel this epic. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6595-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life

UNICORN DAY

Fabled equines party and play in a bright confection of a picture book.

“Hooray! Hooray! It’s Unicorn Day!” In galloping rhyming text that mostly scans, a community of chipper, bright-eyed unicorns obeys the three rules of Unicorn Day: “Show off your horn,” “Fluff up that hair,” and “Have fun, fun, fun!” They dance, frolic with butterflies, and of course eat cupcakes. But then they discover an interloper: A dun-colored quadruped, with a horn suspiciously attached with string, is outed as a horse. He mopes off, but the unicorns come running after—“they don’t want to lose a friend!”—and his horn is tied back on. With tension limited to a page turn, this very minor climax is resolved immediately. Then it’s back to the fun, as lots of other creatures (human children, a rainbow octopus, a Yeti, and more) join the unicorn parade with their own tied-on horns. Is this an allegory about straight people at pride parades? An argument that appropriation is OK sometimes? Should one read meaning into the identity of the only brown “unicorn”? Or is it just a zany, philosophy-free, sugar-fueled opposite-of-a-bedtime story? Regardless of subtext, conscious or otherwise, kiddie readers hungry for fluff will be drawn to the bright, energetic illustrations as to cotton candy.

Give this to the sparkle- and cupcake-obsessed child in your life . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6722-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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