Readers probably won’t be curious enough to revisit this story after the first time.

ELBERT, THE CURIOUS CLOCK TOWER BEAR

A mechanical bear’s curiosity doesn’t run like clockwork.

On a tower high above a town, Elbert is one of five bears that parade in and out of a clock on the stroke of every hour. His companions steadfastly carry out their marching duties; Elbert doesn’t, constantly distracted by myriad wonders. When his unquenchable curiosity disrupts routines badly, his fellows give him 24 hours to dispose of it or risk permanent banishment. On the ground, new experiences engender many new questions, but what to do with curiosity? Elbert tries various disappearing methods, but, frustratingly, nothing works…until, finally, something does—to his and the other bears’ benefit. This is an odd tale, with jarring elements. Curiosity isn’t portrayed altogether positively, and punitive aspects—threat of exile, Elbert’s self-reproach—may seem harsh or confusing. The story’s conclusion, however, reassures that curiosity is acceptable and rewarded with treats and a walkabout for all, suggesting Elbert’s clockwork partners will thereafter strut happily. The pencil and digitally colored illustrations serve the tale serviceably, with Elbert depicted as blue and inexpressive. (He is an automaton.) His smart, reflective questions appear in italics to differentiate them from the otherwise lackluster narrative. Frequent depictions of analog-clock faces throughout should pique the curiosity of readers/listeners who will ask what time the clocks show or proudly demonstrate their own prowess.

Readers probably won’t be curious enough to revisit this story after the first time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51398-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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