An excellent update on the golden rule: treat people how they want to be treated.

DON'T HUG DOUG

(HE DOESN'T LIKE IT)

A cheerful approach to basic consent.

In rollicking text readers learn that Doug, a brown-skinned child with red glasses, “likes to sort his rock collection, and try on his sock collection, and draw with his chalk collection.” He often has a smile on his face and “just doesn’t like hugs.” “Doug likes YOU,” the book assures readers, explaining that Doug only likes good-night hugs, from his mom. The next page points to people of various ages and racial presentations and poses a question: “Can you hug these people? There’s only one way to find out.” “ASK!” Doug rejoins. Readers learn that “Some people love hugs. Lots of people don’t. And lots of people are somewhere in the middle.” A collage of purple, green, and blue people (and one porcupine), one in hijab and the others with racially differentiated hair, share their preferences around physical affection. The story ends with Doug racing around high-fiving a diverse group of humans and nonhumans. Especially important is that Doug never gives a reason why he doesn’t like hugs—he just doesn’t, and the reason why doesn’t matter, because he gets to make that decision for himself. Even though it doesn’t have—or really need—a plot, this book will still be fun to read aloud or explore independently. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.5-by-19-inch double-page spreads viewed at 8.3% of actual size.)

An excellent update on the golden rule: treat people how they want to be treated. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984813-02-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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