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Themes of familial ties and inevitable separation make for a marvelous reinterpretation of a beloved picture book.

The late Zolotow’s 1964 classic is stylishly updated by her daughter (author Dragonwagon) and illustrator Morstad.

“Guess what I’ll do,” a girl tells her mother. As the mother reclines on a picnic blanket, observing her daughter, the child proposes a range of activities: “I will do all your arithmetic for you.” “I’ll fight anyone you don’t like and win.” “I’ll capture a wild black horse and tame him for you to ride.” “I’ll pick the pinkest rose for you to smell.” The original edition centered on an older brother talking to his younger sister. Changing the characters to a mother and child gives the book a special poignancy, particularly when it ends with, “I’ll leave you a friend to keep you company, while I explore the world.” Morstad’s black-eyed heroines often appear expressionless, as when the girl states, “I’ll build you a bridge that is bigger than any bridge in the world,” and the two stand back-to-back, their faces unsmiling. Yet by and large, there is real affection between these characters. Morstad even incorporates some mixed media, amusingly utilized when the girl breaks whole rocks apart for her mom. The result is a deep and abiding love that still acknowledges that someday the child must depart. Dragonwagon’s afterword ties the book’s mother-daughter connections together further. The characters have paper-white skin.

Themes of familial ties and inevitable separation make for a marvelous reinterpretation of a beloved picture book. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 26, 2024

ISBN: 9781951836740

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cameron Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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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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