Readers will be forgiven for wondering if a plant can replace companionship.

THE INVISIBLE BEAR

In this French import (translated into English by its author), a bear that feels invisible undergoes a transformation.

Debut author/illustrator Metzger opens the story with exterior and interior settings rendered in pale gray/green watercolor and ink, a choice reinforcing the lonely silence surrounding the large, white bear that feels forgotten, unseen. His presence is distinguished only by the rain cloud perpetually above his head. One morning, a cluster of rosy dragonflies flits into his orbit—followed by a truck packed with the green and pink cargo of Madame Odette. Double-page spreads of the elderly white woman’s home and greenhouse, as well as vignettes of her many activities, show that she “lived in a cheerful world of color and sound.” Initially annoyed, the bear learns to accommodate the changes and ultimately help his new neighbor by transporting his cloud to her wilting garden. Then his new friend is gone: “She loved her dragonflies so much that she flew away with them.” Whether this is meant to be literal or metaphorical is open to interpretation, but the bear finds a potted flower on his doorstep and realizes that he has been seen. While the two characters’ contrasting lives are well delineated, the gray lasts a bit too long, the bear’s predicament is never explained, and the conclusion in which the friend departs will be unsatisfying for many children.

Readers will be forgiven for wondering if a plant can replace companionship. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6687-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles.

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YOU MATTER

Employing a cast of diverse children reminiscent of that depicted in Another (2019), Robinson shows that every living entity has value.

After opening endpapers that depict an aerial view of a busy playground, the perspective shifts to a black child, ponytails tied with beaded elastics, peering into a microscope. So begins an exercise in perspective. From those bits of green life under the lens readers move to “Those who swim with the tide / and those who don’t.” They observe a “pest”—a mosquito biting a dinosaur, a “really gassy” planet, and a dog whose walker—a child in a pink hijab—has lost hold of the leash. Periodically, the examples are validated with the titular refrain. Textured paint strokes and collage elements contrast with uncluttered backgrounds that move from white to black to white. The black pages in the middle portion foreground scenes in space, including a black astronaut viewing Earth; the astronaut is holding an image of another black youngster who appears on the next spread flying a toy rocket and looking lonely. There are many such visual connections, creating emotional interest and invitations for conversation. The story’s conclusion spins full circle, repeating opening sentences with new scenarios. From the microscopic to the cosmic, word and image illuminate the message without a whiff of didacticism.

Whimsy, intelligence, and a subtle narrative thread make this rise to the top of a growing list of self-love titles. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2169-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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