Hines’ art is always beautiful; she illustrates her work with astonishing quilts, reproduced full-size, in a variety of designs: In this work she uses black-and-white reverse patterns, mosaic-type images, photographs made into quilt patterns and lots and lots of gorgeous color. She uses this abundance of styles in her poems, too, offering acrostic, haiku, rhymed and free verse as well as concrete poetry (“Peace. Pass it on,” repeats over and over around a quilted globe, held by quilted hands of many colors, including orange and purple). In “What If?” she muses, “What if guns / fired marshmallow bullets, / and bombs burst / into feather clouds / sending us into fits / of giggles? What if / we all died / laughing?” It is very difficult to write about peace for children—or anyone else—without sinking into bathos or pure sappiness, and this collection doesn’t always rise above, but these missteps are small. Brief paragraphs about various peacemakers at the back, including two children (Samantha Smith, 1972–1985, and Mattie Stepanek, 1990–2004), tether the poems to reality; her description of making the quilts and the support of her quilters’ group is wonderful in and by itself for both children and adults to read. A poem about two sisters made to stand nose-to-nose until they stop fighting and dissolve into giggles is a truly fine idea—wonder if it would work with world leaders? (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8996-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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Lovely pictures newly elucidate this renowned, euphonious work.


A picture-book adaptation of Frost’s pensive poem.

Its four rhyming quatrains are divided into six couplets interleaved with several wordless double spreads; the last four lines each appear on a separate page. Notably, Lynch visually subverts several of the poem’s customary narrative interpretations, depicting a young, light-skinned rider astride a dappled gray horse. While the poem’s line “He gives his harness bells a shake” implies a horse-drawn wagon, Lynch supplies a bell-trimmed bridle instead. Such innovations shift the poem’s authorial voice away from that of the venerable poet, adding a fresh layer of mystery to the purpose of this traveler’s journey. The narrator’s clothing, suggestive of the late 19th or early 20th century, includes a long dress, a belted jacket, a sturdy, wide-brimmed hat, and thick work gloves; a bedroll is stowed behind the saddle. Where the poem mildly personifies the horse, who “must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near,” Lynch depicts the dismounted rider fondly cradling the animal’s head as twin puffs of breath exit his nostrils. Belying this “darkest evening of the year,” Lynch illuminates the blue-grays of snow-laden conifers and frozen lake with a pallid gold winter sunset and a fleeting moon. Variable perspective—from bird’s-eye to close-up—bestows a quasi-cinematic sense as the coming dawn draws the rider’s furtive look. Endpapers bracket the journey, from twilit village to sunup, horse and rider long gone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Lovely pictures newly elucidate this renowned, euphonious work. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2914-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.


The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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