A HOME NAMED WALTER

In this cozy home, open hearts prevail.

Wallace explores the notion of home by personifying a house who loses one family and slowly accepts another.

When his beloved first family leaves, “Walter’s feelings were hurt.” He grimly relishes his browning lawn, rusting pipes, and sagging floors. When a brown-skinned girl and her lighter-skinned mother move in, Walter feels cramped and resentful. Little Girl feels unsettled, too, though she’s reassured by her capable mom. Wallace endows Walter with poltergeistlike responses to the new family’s intrusion: He slams shutters, hobbles the oven, and sabotages the fireplace. He observes Little Girl sniffling while addressing her father, holding his picture: “I miss you, Papa. You’d like our new house. He’s funny, like you.” Walter’s emotional response yields broken pipes as his “tears” flow through the house. Mama handles this latest setback with buckets and aplomb, asking her daughter to bring towels. When Little Girl discovers a photo of the former family, she realizes why the house is sad. “I know what it’s like to have someone move away. But it doesn’t mean you’re alone.” Her matter-of-fact empathy affects Walter: he feels understood and “livable” once more. Hsu conveys Walter’s emotions through dot-and-dash facial features that appear on the roof or walls. Her bright, detailed pictures elevate a potentially maudlin premise, and the project succeeds by spotlighting the growing emotional intelligence of Little Girl and Walter. Both former and current families present as multiracial. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

In this cozy home, open hearts prevail. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-31641-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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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