THE FANTASTIC BUREAU OF IMAGINATION

Fun to look at but overdone.

An imagination bureaucracy spreads magic.

Even before the title page, young readers are pulled into the fourth-wall–breaking world of this story. In a letter addressed to “Potential Special Agent, Human Division,” Agent Whim explains that this is a true story and that readers are invited to become “agents of imagination.” The narrative then follows a brown-skinned figment named Sparky (figments are “curious little creatures” working for the Bureau), who delivers mail around the agency along with Rascal the dreampuppy. Sparky is also a burgeoning writer of poetry but is too shy to share his doggerel with his community. Through meandering verbosity, the book finally comes to the point: The Cave of Untold Stories is exploding because humans have been hoarding their creativity. This finally forces Sparky to share his poems and is also meant to remind young artists that “ideas are not just meant for having and holding, but for sharing and living and doing.” It’s quite the heavy-handed message, and unfortunately Sparky’s own rhymes are weak. This would be exhausting to read aloud, but the delightful, detailed illustrations provide a lot of interesting moments for a small audience to pore over. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun to look at but overdone. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-32347-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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

BUDDY'S NEW BUDDY

From the Growing With Buddy series , Vol. 3

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient.

How do you make a new friend when an old one moves away?

Buddy (from Sorry, Grown-Ups, You Can’t Go to School, 2019, etc.) is feeling lonely. His best friend just moved across town. To make matters worse, there is a field trip coming up, and Buddy needs a bus partner. His sister, Lady, has some helpful advice for making a new pal: “You just need to find something you have in common.” Buddy loves the game Robo Chargers and karate. Surely there is someone else who does, too! Unfortunately, there isn’t. However, when a new student arrives (one day later) and asks everyone to call her Sunny instead of Alison, Buddy gets excited. No one uses his given name, either; they just call him Buddy. He secretly whispers his “real, official name” to Sunny at lunch—an indication that a true friendship is being formed. The rest of the story plods merrily along, all pieces falling exactly into place (she even likes Robo Chargers!), accompanied by Bowers’ digital art, a mix of spot art and full-bleed illustrations. Friendship-building can be an emotionally charged event in a child’s life—young readers will certainly see themselves in Buddy’s plight—but, alas, there is not much storytelling magic to be found. Buddy and his family are White, Sunny and Mr. Teacher are Black, and Buddy’s other classmates are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Making friends isn’t always this easy and convenient. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30709-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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