WAITING FOR CHICKEN SMITH

Just wonderful.

At the beach, a child waits for a summer friend to arrive.

The book’s narrator, a young child whose skin color varies from kraft-paper brown to graphite-pencil gray, is waiting for Chicken Smith. Every year, Chicken Smith and his father occupy a cabin near the one the narrator’s family stays in. But this year, Chicken is late, and the narrator waits, shell gift in hand, recalling past summer activities: how Chicken can kick a tennis ball from the porch to the beach and his dog, Jelly, will fetch it, and how they go to the lighthouse with Chicken’s binoculars to look for whales. Regularly interrupting these musings, the narrator’s sister, Mary Ann, keeps urging, “Hey! Look!” but the narrator puts her off. Finally Mary Ann yells, “Just hurry up!” and she dashes to the lighthouse, with the narrator following. “There he is!” shouts Mary Ann, and points—to a whale. “Even with binoculars, Chicken Smith and I never saw one,” relates the narrator. As the poignancy of Chicken’s nonarrival settles in (readers see a “Summer RENTAL” sign on his cabin), Mackintosh deftly delivers a satisfying conclusion as the narrator and Mary Ann begin to bond. Mackintosh’s text perfectly captures the timelessness of childhood summer, and his scribbly illustrations (done in pen, pencil, ink, watercolor, and kraft paper) conjure associations of a child’s project sketchbook, the handcrafted look underscored by the old-fashioned-typewriter typeface.

Just wonderful. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0771-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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