A visual feast.

A celebration of humankind’s connection to the natural world, as a child joyfully observes how a tree—and all the elements that allow it to flourish—lives on in people.

A brown-skinned child with short, curly black hair plucks an apple from a tree. As it’s eaten, the fruit’s rosy glow is reflected in the youth’s cheeks as the text reads, “The tree in me / is part apple.” And so the poetic text, with the tree refrain starting each stanza, continues. The wise child, with the help of a multiracial cast of friends, plays among glorious trees—climbing, swinging from, and reading on branches; jumping among leaves; and resting in their cool shade. With each spread, the link between the trees and the children strengthens. The soil, sun, and rain that nourish the trees are also parts of the child, as are the bee that pollinates, the squirrel that regenerates, and the worm that decomposes and enriches the ground. The cycles of the tree and of the larger natural world, including humans, are honored. Luyken captures the splendor of nature in her brushwork and patterns. Done in gouache, pencil, and ink, her simplified designs are layered with energy and skillfully composed. Warm pink and yellow hues create a soft radiance, cooled by the middle spreads of predominant blue patterns for rain and sky, which create endless delight for the children. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-14-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.) 

A visual feast.  (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11259-5

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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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