Surprises, mayhem, potty humor, sharks, and ice cream: What’s not to like? (Picture book. 4-6)

DUDE!

Once children can recognize and read the title, they will easily be able to navigate the rest of this book. “Dude!” is (almost) the only word uttered throughout the story.

Sometimes it is printed in large capital letters, sometimes in diminutive lowercase. The word may be surrounded by a jagged speech bubble, stretched out with five U’s, spoken by one or many, or decorated with sprinkles, but part of the fun of this picture book with graphic-novel overtones is interpreting the proper intonation from the context. A platypus and a beaver are the first two friends to call out to each other as they race to the beach, surfboards at the ready. After an encounter with sea-gull droppings (heralded with one of the few additional words: “SPLAT!”), a shark is spotted. It is cajoled with ice cream, so the nervous duo’s chorus is soon voiced by an exultant trio. Santat varies the page design to pace the over-the-top emotions and action, employing diagonally framed panels, cameos, small insets, and full-bleed double-page spreads. Disaster occurs at the rocks, and if observant readers hadn’t noticed the warning sign at the story’s opening, subsequent readings will reveal this foreshadowing and other clever details. The three dudes resolve the damage, ultimately sharing a sweet denouement under the sunset.

Surprises, mayhem, potty humor, sharks, and ice cream: What’s not to like? (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-603-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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