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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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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