While it offers a valuable lesson, it’s not a terribly eventful or memorable book

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THE THING LOU COULDN'T DO

Try, try, and try again, even if you don’t succeed.

Lou, a girl with brown skin, and her diverse band of friends—a redheaded white boy, two brown girls, and a loyal cat companion—enjoy brave adventures. Together, they outrun airplanes, build mighty fortresses, and rescue wild animals. When her friends suggest they play pirates and use the tree as their pirate ship, they, without hesitation, climb up and aboard. All but Lou. Her friends encourage and reassure her. “It will be an adventure,” which Lou loves, but her fear and lack of experience are real and get in the way. Attempting to avoid climbing that tree, she gives myriad reasons: her arm is sore, the cat needs a walk, she stepped on a slug and his funeral is in five minutes, she found out she is part fish and needs to be in water to survive, and so on. She finally admits to her friends that she cannot climb a tree. Lou inventively imagines alternate ways of joining her mateys in the branches: a trampoline, a pole vault, or a helicopter. Then a cry for help encourages Lou to put on her eye patch and climb aboard. Up, up, up. To readers’ amusement, she makes it nowhere and falls a short distance to the ground. No matter: her friends find a different game all can play. To accompany her third-person narration and dialogue, Spires, known for the Binky graphic novels, uses clean, simple illustrations to envision various amusing scenarios. Unfortunately, Lou’s excuses are more interesting than the story, which ends on a flat, moral note.

While it offers a valuable lesson, it’s not a terribly eventful or memorable book . (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77138-727-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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