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A strange and special fairy tale that will resonate with many readers.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Baldwin takes readers on a tenacious trek in this hopeful picture book.

A boy leaves home for a sail in the morning, assuring his mother that he’ll return for dinner. A wild storm swallows up the boy, who’s rescued by a mermaid. She whisks him to the Island of the Eye, where he’ll always be safe—but alone forever. Determined to have a fuller life, the boy confronts walls of water, a dragon, and the “Reef of no Return,” but in order to survive, he must truly believe that he’s “stronger than any storm.” Baldwin seems to have intentionally created a generic character—one that effectively allows readers to see themselves in the eye of the storm, which can represent a range of real-life struggles. Efficient, descriptive word choices add to the fairy-tale feel of the story. The sparse text sometimes stumbles through the artwork and other times stands alone, establishing the weather’s rocky rhythm. The illustrations establish an emotional, heavy tone and simultaneously show and tell the tale; indeed, some events take place solely in Bell’s stark, black-and-white line drawings. In a time of pandemic, this survival story provides welcome sunlight in a surging storm.

A strange and special fairy tale that will resonate with many readers.

Pub Date: April 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-9791882-4-4

Page Count: 49

Publisher: Decozen Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2021


As ephemeral as a valentine.

Daywalt and Jeffers’ wandering crayons explore love.

Each double-page spread offers readers a vision of one of the anthropomorphic crayons on the left along with the statement “Love is [color].” The word love is represented by a small heart in the appropriate color. Opposite, childlike crayon drawings explain how that color represents love. So, readers learn, “love is green. / Because love is helpful.” The accompanying crayon drawing depicts two alligators, one holding a recycling bin and the other tossing a plastic cup into it, offering readers two ways of understanding green. Some statements are thought-provoking: “Love is white. / Because sometimes love is hard to see,” reaches beyond the immediate image of a cat’s yellow eyes, pink nose, and black mouth and whiskers, its white face and body indistinguishable from the paper it’s drawn on, to prompt real questions. “Love is brown. / Because sometimes love stinks,” on the other hand, depicted by a brown bear standing next to a brown, squiggly turd, may provoke giggles but is fundamentally a cheap laugh. Some of the color assignments have a distinctly arbitrary feel: Why is purple associated with the imagination and pink with silliness? Fans of The Day the Crayons Quit (2013) hoping for more clever, metaliterary fun will be disappointed by this rather syrupy read.

As ephemeral as a valentine. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9268-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2021


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

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