A lovely, poetic, and compassionate tale with appealing images.


This picture book for all ages explores the difficulty of finding connections and meaning.

A curious, alienlike creature with an elephant’s trunk, pointy ears, enormous dark eyes, angel’s wings, and a Santa suit gazes shyly at readers from the first page. Maybe, the work suggests, this is how some of us might imagine an angel. Angels could take other forms, such as animals (so be kind to them). The story then shares a string of thoughtful observations. Our big brains are a gift, but sometimes they make us painfully aware of our loneliness or difference. We’re always hoping to encounter kindred spirits and experience a sense of relationship with the wonders of our existence: “If we are fortunate, we may connect with someone else—another native alien—from time to time.” Sometimes, though, we’re sidetracked or frightened. Even then, “monsters and demons are also creatures of light deep under the water,” with whom we also have a kinship. Curiosity, companionship, and angels in our lives will help us to feel truly at home, in a place where we’re loved and we belong. The tale offers a blessing that can help readers get to that place: “May we always be on the look-out for small, ordinary magic.” In her second picture book, puppeteer and playwright Sawyer tells a charming and lyrical story about the difficulties of and remedies for isolation. Well-chosen quotations from Mary Oliver and David Bowie bracket the tale, their very different styles somehow converging on the theme of imagination’s power to overcome distance. The story’s appreciation for oddity is both moving and hope-giving. The author’s illustrations have the appearance of blue ballpoint-pen lines filled in with gray, grayish-blue, and rich red accent colors. They have a naïve, quirky quality that fits in well with the text.

A lovely, poetic, and compassionate tale with appealing images.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 19

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2021

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...


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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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