Hello, Ben! We’re glad you’re here.

COME BACK, BEN

From the I Like To Read series

This excellent early reader will send new readers’ confidence soaring.

“Ben had a balloon,” begins the spare text, accompanied by a picture rendered in cut paper and ink showing Ben holding a red balloon aloft. The next spread shows only the lower portion of Ben’s body at the top of the page as his sister, standing on the ground below him, says, “Bye, Ben.” Ensuing pages show Ben soaring higher and higher up into the sky as first a window, then bees, a tree, a kite, a big hill, rain and a rainbow all call out, “Come back, Ben.” The repetitive text will reinforce new readers’ engagement, while Ben’s consistent smile (a simple, small u shape) provides reassurance that he is untroubled by his ascent into the sky—even when he reaches a smiling moon who says, “Hi, Ben.” Ben collects moon rocks in his pockets, and their weight triggers his descent back to Earth, past all of the things that called to him as he rose up to the heavens. When he returns to his home, art on the penultimate spread shows Ben waving from his window, “Bye, balloon,” he calls, but the balloon is absent from the page. A supremely satisfying page-turn shows Ben’s sister sailing upward while holding onto the balloon’s string. “Bye, Ben,” she calls.

Hello, Ben! We’re glad you’re here. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2599-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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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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Fun, fun, fun all through the town!

THE HIPS ON THE DRAG QUEEN GO SWISH, SWISH, SWISH

This book’s gonna werk, werk, werk all through Pride Month and beyond.

Drag persona Lil Miss Hot Mess rewrites “The Wheels on the Bus” to create a fun, movement-filled, family-friendly celebration of drag. The text opens with the titular verse to establish the familiar song’s formulaic pattern: “The hips on the drag queen go SWISH, SWISH, SWISH… / ALL THROUGH THE TOWN!” Along the way, more and more drag queens join in the celebration. The unnamed queens proudly display a range of skin tones, sizes, and body modifications to create a diverse cast of realistic characters that could easily be spotted at a Pride event or on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The palette of both costumes and backgrounds is appropriately psychedelic, and there are plenty of jewels going “BLING, BLING, BLING.” Don’t tell the queens, but the flow is the book’s real star, because it encourages natural kinetic participation that will have groups of young readers giggling and miming along with the story. Libraries and bookshops hosting drag-queen storytimes will find this a popular choice, and those celebrating LGBTQ+ heritage will also find this a useful book for the pre-K crowd. Curious children unfamiliar with a drag queen may require a brief explanation, but the spectacle stands up just fine on its own platforms.

Fun, fun, fun all through the town! (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6765-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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