The dual focus on friendship and diversity makes this choice a winner.

OUR FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR

Musa shares Eid with his new kindergarten classroom and learns about other students’ favorite days of the year as he makes friends with children from different backgrounds.

At the beginning of the school year, teacher Ms. Gupta, who wears a bindi, tells the children the faces in this room will become their closest friends. Brown-skinned Musa can’t imagine it. But when the teacher says that everyone will share their favorite day of the year so they can all celebrate it together, Musa is elated. He shares Eid with his classmates. His mother comes in to help, wearing a hijab, and they serve the class foods from various cultures within Islam. “Everyone could see why Eid was Musa’s favorite.” When the other students share their favorite days, they are similarly received by the class: Mo shares Rosh Hashanah, with help from his family, two men wearing kippot who share his light skin and brown hair and a brown-skinned child with black hair; Moisés shares Christmas and Las Posadas; and Kevin shares Pi Day. At the end of the year, they have become good friends. This celebration of diversity and friendship includes lush descriptions of each holiday and can serve as an entry point for any one of them. Bell’s textured illustrations are festive and youthful, picturing a diverse, child-centered world. The endpapers are particularly intriguing, with quiltlike squares picturing various cultural symbols; further information on each of the four holidays appears in the backmatter.

The dual focus on friendship and diversity makes this choice a winner. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8563-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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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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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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