Kids won’t be stone faced and will definitely stick with this delightful story about friendship.

STICK AND STONE

BEST FRIENDS FOREVER!

From the Stick and Stone series

When you search for family—and discover it’s always been there.

The pals introduced in Stick and Stone’s first eponymous outing (2015) set out on a quest for Stick’s literal family tree. From what kind of tree did he break off? Oak, spruce, willow? The duo ventures forth, determined to find Stick’s origins, traversing bodies of water, forests, valleys, and mountains. Though surrounded by trees, Stick can’t find his familial roots. Soon, things turn ominous: Darkness falls, shadows and strange noises become unnerving, and the terrified pair realizes they’re lost. No fear, though. They eventually return safely, and Stone helps disconsolate Stick understand who his family is and always has been—and that differences don’t matter. This sweetly adorable story, expressed textually through simple, jaunty verse, conveys the reassuring message that family and true friends always (ahem) stick by you when you need them. The bright illustrations, aptly set mostly in nature, are equally endearing, with the protagonists exuding optimism and cheerfulness (except during that scary forest adventure). They register a broad range of expressions, though their faces are created merely from dots and curves denoting broad smiles. Brownish Stick bears pairs of short, chunky projectiles connoting limbs; his tilted head resembles a wizard’s cap. Stone is orange-brown and looks like a rotund meatball. Endpapers feature numerous smiling iterations of Stick representing branches from different trees; included labels and leaves show variances.

Kids won’t be stone faced and will definitely stick with this delightful story about friendship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-47302-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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...

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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Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere.

THE QUEEN OF KINDERGARTEN

Barnes and Brantley-Newton team up for a follow-up to The King of Kindergarten (2019).

From the very first page, it’s clear that young MJ Malone is ready to face the world—and school. Once Mom bestows her with a glittery tiara and dubs her the queen of kindergarten, MJ is determined to fulfill her duties—brighten up every room she enters, treat others with kindness, and offer a helping hand. Barnes infuses each page with humor and a sense of grace as the immensely likable MJ makes the most of her first day. Barnes’ prose is entertaining and heartwarming, while Brantley-Newton’s vivid and playful artwork will be easily recognizable for anyone who’s seen her work (Grandma’s Purse, 2018; Becoming Vanessa, 2021). The illustrator adds verve to the bold young heroine’s character—from the colorful barrettes to the textured appearance of her adorable denim jumper, the girl has style and substance. MJ Malone embodies the can-do spirit every parent hopes to spark in their own children, though even shy kindergarteners will gladly find a friend in her. MJ and her family are Black; her classroom is diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Just the thing to get uncertain youngsters jazzed for a first day—at school or anywhere. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 24, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-11142-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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