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An uplifting story featuring a child with big dreams and playful, responsive parenting.

A loving father supports his son’s desire to soar among the stars.

Joe’s bedroom shows the signs of a budding astronomer/determined engineer: a toy rocket, a solar system mobile, a sketchbook of transport ideas. His buddies laugh at him: “In your dreams!” His dad, however, suggests they “have a think” when he finishes hanging the laundry on the clothesline. The mixed-media scenes of this close-knit pair exude cozy, comfortable warmth on a fall day. They are both pale-skinned and sport black hair. They work on flight plans and implementation together; risk-taking is not impeded by another adult in the home. Dad catches his son when he falls from a tree and propels the cardboard rocket ferrying Joe from a homemade seesaw into a leaf pile. Almond’s trim text—with enough repetition and simplicity to engage emerging readers—leaves space for Smith’s narrative contributions. As the duo keeps trying (a trampoline, taped-on wings, a cannon), the fun grows. When his father asks if Joe is ready to give up, it’s now the protagonist who says, “In your dreams.” And that is how they eventually achieve their goal. After painting a marvelous skyscape, father and son fall asleep and, in their dreams, they “danced among the stars.” The palette has shifted from warm compositions to cool midnight blues.

An uplifting story featuring a child with big dreams and playful, responsive parenting. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9781536231250

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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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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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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