Young audiences eager to strike out on their own, but not too far, will enjoy the sylvan stroll’s limited interactivity.

THROUGH THE FOREST

A walk in the woods, with choose-your-own routes.

Mother Forest, a pink-skinned figure with red cheeks and straight black hair, invites readers to choose one of two paths through her domain, inviting herself along to comment chattily about forest sights. Each option offers encounters with (Eurocentric) wildlife, from families of foxes and badgers to a green woodpecker and a wild boar, and each brings wanderers safely home at the end. As choose-your-owns go, this is a rudimentary example. The narrative often offers just one option to take, and since all of the page flipping is forward, never back (aside from invitations to start over at the end and, once, partway through), the possible itineraries are short ones. Moreover, a supposedly complete map at the end confusingly leaves out several connecting pathways. Still, with a broad, brown path winding through to trace with a finger, Brocoli’s painted scenes of stylized wildlife in woodsy settings look bright and busy without sacrificing an idyllic air. And, to expedite page flipping, the numbered stops are flagged by leaf-shaped protruding tabs that run in a colorful, irregular row down the right edge.

Young audiences eager to strike out on their own, but not too far, will enjoy the sylvan stroll’s limited interactivity. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-500-65076-9

Page Count: 33

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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