Quick, cut-and-dried behavior modeling to share with children in the wakes of common emotional tempests.



From the My Emotions and Me series

To many if not most children, a first visit to a car wash can be a terrifying experience.

Crespo opens her My Emotions and Me series with—as the Mood-o-Meter on the front cover indicates—“Scared.” Behind a homemade shark mask, young J.P. is fierce enough at home, but a trip through the wash in the family car plunges him into paroxysms of dread: “The giant octopus tried to cover our car with slime. / Then it tried to smash us. I couldn’t see anything. And there were creepy noises all around.” In Sirotich’s very simple cartoon illustrations, the car wash becomes an undersea scene featuring a huge orange octopus. Once J.P. remembers that “I am a brave shark,” he turns the tables—though not without empathy. As the toothy predator, he smiles and apologizes after making the octopus cry and then realizing that it “just wanted to play.” Co-published J.P. and the Polka-Dotted Aliens does similar bibliotherapeutic work with (as the Mood-o-Meter puts it) “Mad,” as J.P. modifies his initial response to two girls (thicker skinned than the octopus) who force him to share a playground. Both episodes close with advice for parents and a short reading list.

Quick, cut-and-dried behavior modeling to share with children in the wakes of common emotional tempests. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8075-3975-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.


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.


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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