Lessons in both gumption and the sacred nature of urban green spaces.

FLORETTE

Mae desperately misses her garden after moving to the city, with its tall, crowded buildings and narrow streets; her new urban environment offers no “winding paths and leafy hiding spots” or butterfly chases “in the wavy grass.”

Light-skinned with bobbed chestnut hair tucked behind her ears, Mae tries to cheer herself up, which will deeply impress young readers who couldn’t imagine being transplanted (and perhaps seem even more admirable to those who have!). She covers a cobblestone square with chalk drawings of caterpillars, leaves, dragonflies, dandelions, bees, and grass; she covers towering cardboard moving boxes with apple trees, lily of the valley, birds, daisies, and ladybugs. But the rain washes away her pictures, and her dad totes away the boxes. While the city has its own appeal, its elegant buildings stretching skyward and its charming storefronts cheery, Mae’s melancholy bleeds through, coloring everything. Wan watercolors offer some soft pinks, mellow reds, and mossy greens, but overcast slate blues and grays dominate. Verdant, dazzling endpapers at the book’s very beginning (dappled leaves covering the spread completely, dotted with little wildflowers and the faces of a few woodland creatures) make Mae’s changed circumstances painfully clear. When she stumbles upon Florette, a greenhouse plant shop crawling with vines, leaves, cactus needles, and blossoms, Mae finally sees she can bloom where she’s been planted.

Lessons in both gumption and the sacred nature of urban green spaces. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-87683-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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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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A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself.

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THE DAY YOU BEGIN

School-age children encounter and overcome feelings of difference from their peers in the latest picture book from Woodson.

This nonlinear story centers on Angelina, with big curly hair and brown skin, as she begins the school year with a class share-out of summer travels. Text and illustrations effectively work together to convey her feelings of otherness as she reflects on her own summer spent at home: “What good is this / when others were flying,” she ponders while leaning out her city window forlornly watching birds fly past to seemingly faraway places. López’s incorporation of a ruler for a door, table, and tree into the illustrations creatively extends the metaphor of measuring up to others. Three other children—Rigoberto, a recent immigrant from Venezuela; a presumably Korean girl with her “too strange” lunch of kimchi, meat, and rice; and a lonely white boy in what seems to be a suburb—experience more-direct teasing for their outsider status. A bright jewel-toned palette and clever details, including a literal reflection of a better future, reveal hope and pride in spite of the taunting. This reassuring, lyrical book feels like a big hug from a wise aunt as she imparts the wisdom of the world in order to calm trepidatious young children: One of these things is not like the other, and that is actually what makes all the difference.

A must-have book about the power of one’s voice and the friendships that emerge when you are yourself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-24653-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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