A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire.

ONE GIRL

While sitting outside her home one night, a forlorn little girl is surprised by a book that falls from the sky.

Glowing like a shooting star, the book lands at her feet. When she opens it, the pages transport her to a whimsical, imaginary land full of possibility. The girl is so enamored with the book that she takes it to school and shares it with her classmates. Inspired by what she’s read, the girl begins to write her own, original story. Swept up in the magic she has created, the girl’s classmates start reading—and, in one case, writing—books of their own. Eventually the first girl’s words take flight, shimmering as they circle the Earth and land at the homes of other children who, presumably, will be inspired to find their voices. Beaty’s rhyming text is charmingly sparse: each word is carefully chosen, and the language glimmers with precision. Much of the story is told by Phumiruk’s gorgeous illustrations, which not only feature a protagonist who appears to be Asian, but also children with diverse skin tones and hair textures; all the children appear to be wearing school uniforms. While the words and pictures work in synchrony, creating a lyrical call to action encouraging children to find their voices and, simultaneously, their inner strength, the plot itself is abstract and widely open to interpretation, such that the book reads more like a poem than a traditional story. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 60.6% of actual size.)

A charming, rhyming picture book designed to inspire. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1905-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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