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

EMILY'S BLUE PERIOD

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 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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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