As perfectly, honestly childlike in its approach as Margaret Wise Brown and Remy Charlip’s classic The Dead Bird, this title...

THE FLAT RABBIT

Upon seeing a flattened rabbit on the road, a dog and rat try to honor her in this secular story about compassion and respect.

Walking along, a dog notices something; a rat stops, too. As they stare at a carcass in the street, a halting, awkward conversation ensues. Together, the dog and rat contemplate the rabbit’s existence—and what to do for her now. With a plan in place, the two gently peel the rabbit off the road and bring her to the dog’s house, where they work all night long. In the morning, they reveal a kite, with the rabbit attached. After much effort, the kite is airborne, and as it soars, they wonder if the rabbit is enjoying herself. Not sure of the answer, they let go, and the kite flies aloft, up and over the city. The artist’s pencil, pen and watercolor illustrations are raw and spare. Done in a faded, pastel palette, they thoughtfully convey different perspectives from both the visual and narrative standpoints. Although they depict a gruesome subject (roadkill), there’s nothing grotesque about the images. Spot illustrations on the left-side pages give context to the animals’ environment or foreshadow events to come. Oskarsson offers a pleasing vision of the afterlife, as the dog and rat try to give the rabbit a gift—an experience it didn’t have during its lifetime.

As perfectly, honestly childlike in its approach as Margaret Wise Brown and Remy Charlip’s classic The Dead Bird, this title should provoke both thought and discussion. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-77147-059-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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