Stick with the old standby: Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Happy (1980).

Attitude rubs off in this peculiar German import first published as Herr Glück & Frau Unglück.

When the perennially cheerful Mr. Happy moves into the cottage next door to No. 13, which squats under an ever present black cloud, Miss Grimm is not at all pleased. She looks down her long, sharp nose at all that her new neighbor does, from planting a garden to his morning and evening rituals: “Every morning Mr. Happy greeted the sun, / every evening the moon and the stars.” In the latter illustration, Mr. Happy climbs a ladder extending from a rooftop hatch with a match to light the moon’s lantern; Miss Grimm pokes out a similar roof hatch swatting the moon with her broom. Though Mr. Happy’s attempt to greet Miss Grimm ends with a door slammed in his face, the black-clad, melancholy woman does come around eventually, the cheerful garden next door bringing about an amazing transformation (in more ways than one) that seems to happen all too quickly for a satisfactory ending. Strasser’s mixed-media, monoprint, crayon, and digital collage illustrations mix muted jewel tones with interesting textures, and the dichotomy between the two houses is visually effective. While Schneider seems to be going for a power-of-nature-to-change-lives sort of message, children may miss it altogether.

Stick with the old standby: Roger Hargreaves’ Mr. Happy (1980). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3198-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015


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


From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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