Sometimes being famous isn’t all that great, but this story of friendship, self-reliance, and overcoming jealousy is.

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AMY IS FAMOUS

Amy is a star, but sharing the spotlight isn’t so easy.

When her teacher calls her a star, Amy believes she is famous. She loves being famous, signing autographs for her fans and dressing in the color of fame: red. But a new day at school brings a new girl named Cecile, and Cecile is also dressed like someone famous (Hermione Granger, accessorized, according to Cecile, with “the actual scarf” worn in a Harry Potter movie). Naturally, everyone wants to be Cecile’s friend, except for Amy. Amy’s mom encourages her to make friends, so she invites Cecile for a play date—but Cecile doesn’t want to do anything, because famous people have to always look pretty and stay clean. But that’s no fun. In the end, they agree being regular girls is better than being famous. Told from Amy’s perspective, the text ties together her experiences, imagination, and feelings. Bottner uses Amy’s teddy bear to share additional thoughts and feelings Amy may be having, similar to a conscience. While most of the illustrations are done on a white background, Chen uses color to express mood, with dull colors for sad moments and bright, bold colors for happiness. Amy and her mom present Asian, and her dad has brown skin and black hair; Cecile has light-brown skin and curly hair.

Sometimes being famous isn’t all that great, but this story of friendship, self-reliance, and overcoming jealousy is. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-13490-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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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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