A cozy gift for Christmas—just like Cat.

READ REVIEW

I WAS MADE FOR YOU

A sentient but unwitting knitted cat, intended as a gift for a girl named Daisy, journeys through a snowy night seeking his purpose.

Cat immediately poses his existential question—“Why was I made?”—even as Mommy’s knitting him into being. “It’s a surprise.” She gift-wraps him, cautioning him against “peeping.” Christmas Eve revelry is followed by an unendurable quiet: Cat peeps. Spying the gift tag labeled “DAISY,” he says, “That’s not my name,” and commences querying everybody and everything he can. Darkness suggests, “Wait until morning,” but toddlerlike Cat, imperious and driven, simply can’t. The appealing, folkloric narrative, paired with appropriately folk-art–style illustrations, many with borders that evoke handicrafts, follows Cat until dawn as he questions door, steps, snow, rock, stars, wind, trees, and the sun. Their respective answers are poignant, thoughtful, even philosophical. The steps say Cat was made “To go places,” while the rock answers, “To be strong!” “But I’m soft and fluffy,” Cat says—hinting that, despite his questing curiosity, his raison d’être is likely a mundane one. Having caught a thread on a nail on his way out the door, Cat is literally unravelling. At dawn, he’s merely a long thread—but his dialogue with the sun produces the necessary revelation. Meanwhile, resourceful mother and daughter (ginger-haired and pink-skinned) follow the clues, with Mommy winding yarn into a ball as they go. Home again, “Daisy watched as Mommy made Cat good as new.”

A cozy gift for Christmas—just like Cat. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-3559-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

I AM ENOUGH

A feel-good book about self-acceptance.

Empire star Byers and Bobo offer a beautifully illustrated, rhyming picture book detailing what one brown-skinned little girl with an impressive Afro appreciates about herself. Relying on similes, the text establishes a pattern with the opening sentence, “Like the sun, I’m here to shine,” and follows it through most of the book. Some of them work well, while others fall flat: “Like the rain, I’m here to pour / and drip and fall until I’m full.” In some vignettes she’s by herself; and in others, pictured along with children of other races. While the book’s pro-diversity message comes through, the didactic and even prideful expressions of self-acceptance make the book exasperatingly preachy—a common pitfall for books by celebrity authors. In contrast, Bobo’s illustrations are visually stunning. After painting the children and the objects with which they interact, such as flowers, books, and a red wagon, in acrylic on board for a traditional look, she scanned the images into Adobe Photoshop and added the backgrounds digitally in chalk. This lends a whimsical feel to such details as a rainbow, a window, wind, and rain—all reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon. Bobo creates an inclusive world of girls in which wearing glasses, using a wheelchair, wearing a head scarf, and having a big Afro are unconditionally accepted rather than markers for othering.

A pro-girl book with illustrations that far outshine the text. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266712-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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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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