Even armed with only some runny soap, duct tape and spotted bandages, Polka-dot’s Grandpa can fix anything. And with a kit...

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POLKA-DOT FIXES KINDERGARTEN

When Polka-dot encounters a mean girl on her first day of kindergarten, her confidence that she can fix anything is shaken.

Even armed with only some runny soap, duct tape and spotted bandages, Polka-dot’s Grandpa can fix anything. And with a kit just like his, Polka-dot heads off for her first day of school believing she can, too. But then she gets on the wrong side of Liz, a stripes-wearing girl, who feels that Polka-dot is taking the teacher’s attention away from her. The runny soap fails to clean up Polka-dot’s paint accident, and the spotted bandages fail to cheer her up at recess when Liz is still being mean to her. But the duct tape proves the handiest tool of all in rescuing Liz from some teasing and cementing the two girls’ future friendship. The classroom teacher is depressingly obtuse—she kindly reminds the girls several times about kindergarten rules but never seems to notice the hurtful things Liz is saying to Polka-dot, with the result that Polka-dot thinks she doesn’t care. Kemble’s watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations are best at portraying relationships and feelings. Children will recognize these kindergarteners immediately, while the air between the two girls fairly sparks.

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-57091-737-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2011

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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