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CAPTAIN STARFISH

This gentle story ably helps fill a need in children’s literature and will help comfort small audiences with their own big...

Bell’s debut picture book quietly shows a child working through his anxieties.

Alfie, a peach-colored child with shaggy brown hair and downcast eyes, is no stranger to “that feeling.” He worries about party games, is too afraid about losing races to even run in them, and doesn’t think he is “brave enough to be Captain Starfish” in his school’s Underwater Dress-Up Parade. The morning after an evocative dream in which “he was carrying the ocean, all on his own,” Alfie just can’t muster up the courage to go to school. His understanding mother takes him to the aquarium, where he’s at first chagrined by a showoff-y starfish but then momentarily comforted by a shy, smiling clown fish. Subdued blue and orange illustrations, with lots of white space, match the emotional pitch of the story. Alfie doesn’t make it to the parade that year, but “it doesn’t matter”; he decides that next year he will “dress up as a clown fish.” Alfie’s success, aided by loving and patient parents, provides a model for children struggling with anxiety and assures them of their ultimate worth and capability.

This gentle story ably helps fill a need in children’s literature and will help comfort small audiences with their own big fears. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2837-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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THE CURIOUS WHY

From the Magical Yet series , Vol. 2

Why not? Fun, cheery, and entertaining: just the ticket for the perennially inquisitive—or perpetually bored.

In this follow-up to The Magical Yet (2020), a child finds an antidote to apathy.

Talk about ennui! The red-spectacled, brown-skinned, dark-haired young protagonist is listless and bored. The little one has tried everything: the computer, toys…YAWN! But as the rhyming narration bounces along at a sprightly clip, a visitor arrives at the door. It’s the Curious Why, who resembles a flowery, leafy artichoke. The Curious Why ushers the child along on an inspirational path to great fun and tremendous learning. “You’re only bored if you choose to be,” says the Curious Why. There’s an enormous world out there just waiting to be explored by anyone who’s willing to be a “knowledge-collector” and a “gotta-know creature.” In other words, kids should ask questions about everything going on in the world. Where does the Why go for answers to these queries? The library, of course! On the next spread, we see the protagonist reading a book atop a winged prehistoric creature while dinosaurs mill about in the background. Other kids explore their passions, too; one uses a telescope to study the stars, another bakes, and another learns about bees. DiTerlizzi offers youngsters an upbeat, sensible cure for a serious case of the blahs; it’s not necessarily guaranteed to work, but it’s definitely worth a try. Readers will love the colorful, energetic, swirling digital illustrations, especially those dinos. Background characters are diverse.

Why not? Fun, cheery, and entertaining: just the ticket for the perennially inquisitive—or perpetually bored. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9780316500142

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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