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A worthwhile, idiosyncratic demonstration of a specific artist’s relevance to a young child.

A girl adjusts to her parents’ divorce with the help of Pablo Picasso’s artwork.

In school, Emily’s learning how Picasso’s cubist portrayals “mix things up,” scooting a nose sideways or stacking eyes over eyes. This notion touches her, as her family feels mixed up too: “Emily’s dad is no longer where he belongs. Suddenly, he lives in his own little cube.” An aerial map shows Emily’s gridlike neighborhood, her father’s new building—pale blue—two blocks from the family house. At a furniture store, Emily sees the furniture as blue and blue-green cubes and refuses to help Dad choose any. She won’t use black charcoal; like Picasso when he was sad, she hews to blue. Despite cuddles from Mom, “Emily’s Blue Period lasts quite some time.” A school assignment chafes: How can she make a collage of her house when she has two? Gathering objects from both, she figures it out, but textual pacing frustrates somewhat: Her completed “big and soggy and beautiful” chef-d’oeuvre is described in words for eight pages before it’s shown, implying that her piece’s concept outweighs its artistic value rather than complementing it. However, Brown’s soothing, blue-focused watercolors with pencil lines and digitally collaged highlights provide an accessible visual link to Picasso. One out-of-place joke about Picasso’s full Spanish name rankles.

A worthwhile, idiosyncratic demonstration of a specific artist’s relevance to a young child. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-469-1

Page Count: 58

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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