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WOODPECKER GIRL

Gorgeous artwork within a disappointing framing of disability.

A physically disabled girl paints by using a brush attached to a headband.

This Taiwanese import ostensibly crafted by three creators—two authors, one illustrator, no translator—actually has four creators: Huang Yipei, the model for the protagonist, made paintings that Doll integrates into the illustrations. Doll’s breathtaking paintings, with Huang’s work seamlessly incorporated, shimmer with swaths of soft and rich colors, warm and harmonious. Angles are steep, scale dramatic—the protagonist is often miniscule. Canvas texture under the paint adds depth. On one spread, the protagonist sits in her wheelchair, half-hidden behind a door, at the faraway end of a stark path of light; a storm cloud unleashes rain onto her head while, in the foreground, un-rained-upon children play with a puppy. She can’t play with the puppy because her chair’s wheels “might roll onto him,” but why can’t someone lift him onto her lap? The text’s tragic view of disability—“All I can do is sit quietly”—shows some uplift with the introduction of assistive technology (a headband-brush to paint; a computer to speak), bringing the girl freedom and joy. But the text doesn’t let her do it for herself; even though she loves making art, it hurts, but she will do it to bring happiness to others. Her specific disability—cerebral palsy—goes unacknowledged until the backmatter, where notes from all three creators and Huang’s mother overcorrect the tragic viewpoint, framing Huang as an inspiration.

Gorgeous artwork within a disappointing framing of disability. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: May 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4788-6954-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Reycraft Books

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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LITTLE DAYMOND LEARNS TO EARN

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists.

How to raise money for a coveted poster: put your friends to work!

John, founder of the FUBU fashion line and a Shark Tank venture capitalist, offers a self-referential blueprint for financial success. Having only half of the $10 he needs for a Minka J poster, Daymond forks over $1 to buy a plain T-shirt, paints a picture of the pop star on it, sells it for $5, and uses all of his cash to buy nine more shirts. Then he recruits three friends to decorate them with his design and help sell them for an unspecified amount (from a conveniently free and empty street-fair booth) until they’re gone. The enterprising entrepreneur reimburses himself for the shirts and splits the remaining proceeds, which leaves him with enough for that poster as well as a “brand-new business book,” while his friends express other fiscal strategies: saving their share, spending it all on new art supplies, or donating part and buying a (math) book with the rest. (In a closing summation, the author also suggests investing in stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrency.) Though Miles cranks up the visual energy in her sparsely detailed illustrations by incorporating bright colors and lots of greenbacks, the actual advice feels a bit vague. Daymond is Black; most of the cast are people of color. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

It’s hard to argue with success, but guides that actually do the math will be more useful to budding capitalists. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-56727-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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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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