USHA AND THE STOLEN SUN

After years of darkness, Usha is determined to recover the sun.

The only one in Usha’s town who remembers sunshine at all is her grandfather, and even he is starting to forget what it was like. The only thing he can tell Usha is that when he was a child, someone—he isn’t sure who—built a giant wall that blocked out the light. Determined to help her grandfather remember the feeling of sunshine on his skin, Usha sets out to find the wall. When she arrives at it, she unleashes her rage, commanding the bricks to come down. She remembers, then, that her grandfather said that yelling hadn’t stopped it from going up. She therefore tries whispering and singing. Voices on the other side of the wall respond, and eventually the wall comes down to reveal that the other side is full of children just like her. The book has a promising beginning, centering a brave, dark-skinned, South Asian girl determined to right an injustice, all in simple and appealing prose. Unfortunately, though, the plot implies that real, valid anger at injustices must be shaped into arguments that are quiet and gentle to actually make a change. This is particularly troubling given that Usha is a girl of color, possibly from the global south, and therefore already at risk of being socialized to ignore her very understandable rage.

Well meaning but flawed. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77147-276-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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A winning tale about finding new friends.

FOUND

Bear finds a wonderful toy.

Bear clearly loves the toy bunny that he has found sitting up against a tree in the forest, but he wants to help it return to its home. With a wagon full of fliers and the bunny secure in Bear’s backpack, he festoons the trees with posters and checks out a bulletin board filled with lost and found objects (some of which will bring a chuckle to adult readers). Alas, he returns home still worried about bunny. The following day, they happily play together and ride Bear’s tricycle. Into the cozy little picture steps Moose, who immediately recognizes his bunny, named Floppy. Bear has a tear in his eye as he watches Moose and Floppy hug. But Moose, wearing a tie, is clearly grown and knows that it is time to share and that Bear will take very good care of his Floppy. Yoon’s story is sweet without being sentimental. She uses digitized artwork in saturated colors to create a lovely little world for her animals. They are outlined in strong black lines and stand out against the yellows, blues, greens and oranges of the background. She also uses space to great effect, allowing readers to feel the emotional tug of the story.

A winning tale about finding new friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3559-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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