A picture book to love best in all seasons.

IN MY GARDEN

A picture-book update that does Zolotow’s legacy proud.

Stead has carved out a spot in contemporary picture books after years of study of the form. He says as much in his dedication to the late author and editor Zolotow, noting that he began collecting picture books, including hers, as a teenager. His stunning artistic interpretation of this text (first published in 1960) is a triumph in how it matches the writing’s quiet tone without sacrificing visual interest. Historians of the form may find it curious that the original artist, Roger Duvoisin, is not acknowledged except on the copyright page. But perhaps there is a visual tribute: Like Duvoisin, Stead illustrates a black cat, unmentioned by the text, who accompanies a young child (who appears white) through the seasons and the garden. Stead adds a woman (also white-appearing) to the illustrations, perhaps the child’s mother or grandmother, whose presence enhances the sense of wonder and quiet delight in the spreads. Her kindly ways offer steady assurance that this child is safe and beloved while exploring the world. What’s more than that, the woman clearly nurtures the child’s love of nature, as when she hangs a birdhouse while the child’s first-person narration reads “in the spring what I love best in my garden are the birds building nests.”

A picture book to love best in all seasons. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4320-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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Fun enough to read once but without enough substance to last.

GREEN IS FOR CHRISTMAS

Familiar crayon characters argue over which color is the essential Christmas color.

Green starts by saying that green is for Christmas. After all, green is for holly. But Red objects. Red is for candy canes. Green is for fir trees, Green retorts. But Red is for Santa Claus, who agrees. (Santa is depicted as a white-bearded White man.) Then White joins the fray. After spending the year being invisible, White isn’t giving up the distinction of association with Christmas. Snow, anyone? But then there’s Silver: stars and bells. And Brown: cookies and reindeer! At this point, everyone is confused. But they come together and agree that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without all of them together. Someone may get the last word, though. In Daywalt and Jeffers’ now-signature style, the crayon-written text is spare and humorous, while the crayon characters engage with each other against a bare white background, vying for attention. Dot-eyed faces and stick legs on each object turn them all into comical, if similar, personalities. But the series’ original cleverness is absent here, leaving readers with a perfunctory recitation of attributes. Fans of the crayon books may delight in another themed installment; those who aren’t already fans will likely find it lacking. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fun enough to read once but without enough substance to last. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35338-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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