A book with an engaging message that falls short during implementation.

When a child is given a box of crayons and an eraser, they replace bad things with nicer ones, spreading color everywhere.

“Desert” gives way to “roses” and the color red, “darkness” to “light” and the color yellow, and “hunger” to “wheat” and green. The color pairings go beyond a limited set to include sky blue, violet, silver, and others. Their associations with introduced items tickle the imagination but feel forced at times—why, for instance, is “laughter” purple? Readers looking for comfort in patterning will be disappointed by the inconsistency of types of actions in the text: Is the child effecting the change (“I made roses grow”) or just imagining it (“mothers danced and laughed”)? While the creative and simple poem focuses on improving the quality of the world for everybody, some readers may feel that certain concepts (“winter,” for instance, as well as“crying” and, most problematically, “old age”) are bestowed with a negativity they don’t deserve. Stylized, childlike illustrations accompany the introduced colors, with swirls and concentric circles offering unifying ornamentation, but largely fail to convey the positive message of the book, with most of the depicted characters looking unengaged, tired, or distressed. The book’s high point is an exercise for readers at the end, asking them to imagine what they want to change to make the world a better place.

A book with an engaging message that falls short during implementation. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-910328-49-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiny Owl

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


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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