Skillfully provides the language to help readers remember—or learn—their abilities to treat themselves and others with...

FANTASTIC YOU

A diverse cast of children speak kindly to themselves, practice self-care, and display gratitude.

The narrative of this book is written like a pep talk one could imagine hearing from a person with fully realized emotional intelligence. Growth mindset, positive self-talk, resilience, empathy, perspective-taking, and other learned skills from the domain of social-emotional learning are demonstrated through first-person action statements. A brown-skinned child looks in the mirror: “I’m going to give myself the same love and kindness that I give the people I love.” A clearly disappointed, light-skinned child is cuddled in the lap of a caring adult: “When cheering myself up doesn’t help, I try not to keep feelings inside.” A dark-skinned girl with textured hair practices martial arts: “Sometimes loving me means I stand up for myself.” Many strategies for exhibiting self-love chosen by the child protagonists employing them are shown as valid, reinforcing that there is no one perfect way, just as there is no one perfect person. Zivoin’s illustration style is expressive and playful, but her mood can feel melancholic at times. The occasional series of vignettes on white space alleviates this sense with much-needed breathing room.

Skillfully provides the language to help readers remember—or learn—their abilities to treat themselves and others with gentleness. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4338-3028-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Has to be said: It hits all the right notes.

A VERY MERCY CHRISTMAS

DiCamillo and illustrator Van Dusen collaborate again, this time on a holiday story that includes their beloved porcine heroine, Mercy Watson.

Though Stella, who lives next door to the Watsons, is determined to spread spur-of-the-moment Christmas spirit, when she goes door to door asking for neighbors to go caroling with her, no one is willing except for Mercy, General Washington the cat, and Maybelline the horse. The quartet’s loud and “not very musical” version of “Deck the Halls” brings out the neighbors for an accordion concert and an impromptu merry feast. In any other hands, this story might be too saccharine, but thanks to DiCamillo’s quirky and endearing characters and subtle use of scene, it feels like a bit of Christmas magic. Van Dusen’s distinct rosy-cheeked characters give life to the uniquely named neighbors. Perhaps the most powerful illustration shows the group hand in hand looking up at the stars. Readers’ perspective is from below them, forcing the eye up and into the beautiful night “above the tired and hopeful earth,” a pitch-perfect pairing with DiCamillo’s poetic text. This celebration of community lit from the spark of just one joyful child anchors this familiar, warm story. Stella is biracial, and most of her neighbors are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Has to be said: It hits all the right notes. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1360-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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