Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success.

MAGGIE'S CHOPSTICKS

Learning to use something new is never easy.

Young Maggie has a new set of chopsticks, but everyone says she is using them incorrectly. Evocative and appealing digitally enhanced  watercolors show how Grandmother, Mother, Brother and Sister eat with their chopsticks (shoveling, popping, plucking and dancing, respectively), but Maggie can’t seem to follow any of their examples. The Kitchen God has nothing helpful to say, and Maggie’s private practicing doesn’t help her either; it’s not until Father offers praise and comforting words about individuality that Maggie finds her own style, “like a butterfly emerging / from a long winter’s sleep.” Though something seems lost here—it is difficult to see whether the setting is China or elsewhere, whether using chopsticks with style is a cultural phenomenon or based on Maggie’s own observations, and whether Maggie improves through practice, simply accepts herself or both—the story is well-intentioned, the character plucky and hardworking, and the illustrations warm and striking.

Youngsters learning to cope with eating utensils of any sort will appreciate Maggie’s efforts and urge her on to success. (Picture book.3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55453-619-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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Nevertheless, children will enjoy the whimsical scenes, and adult mavens of children’s literature will appreciate and...

GOODNIGHT SONGS

ILLUSTRATED BY TWELVE AWARD-WINNING PICTURE BOOK ARTISTS

It’s a treasure trove: one dozen previously unpublished lyrical songs illustrated by the likes of Jonathan Bean, Carin Berger and Melissa Sweet.

In an introduction, estate editor Amy Gary explains how she found a trunk in Brown’s sister’s barn filled with unpublished manuscripts with Brown’s handwritten notes along with musical scores of her words. They were written in 1952, the last year of her life, when she was traveling in France for a book tour and under contract to create songs for a new children’s record company. Brown’s intent was to capture the spirit of a child’s world in her songs as she had done with her stories. As the opening to “The Secret Song” demonstrates, the simple rhymes have Brown’s trademark charm: “Who saw the petals / Drop from the rose? / ‘I,’ said the spider. / ‘But nobody knows.’ / Who saw the sunset / Flash on a bird? / ‘I,’ said the fish. / ‘But nobody heard.’ ” Each song is presented on one double-page spread, each illustrated by a different artist (uncredited until an ending recap), in a rather staid book design that does not rise to meet the buoyancy of the lyrics.

Nevertheless, children will enjoy the whimsical scenes, and adult mavens of children’s literature will appreciate and delight in the background of the discovery. (CD) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0446-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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