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From the I See the Sun… series

Well-intended—but woefully inadequate to its task.

The newest in the I See the Sun… series is a paean to American diversity.

During a trip to Mount Rushmore, Stella, a biracial girl with a white mother and Indian-American father, explores how her family differs from others, including: a transracial-transnational adoptive Alabama family with two white moms; a black family from Massachusetts; and a multigenerational, white Iowan family. Stilted, lengthy, first-person narration details her observations and fails in earnest efforts to affirm pluralism. The book presents family trees with inadequately contextualized lineages and later delivers a ham-fisted treatment of Native peoples and history. On the latter note, Stella’s father tells her that “the Lakotas really own the Black Hills where Mt. Rushmore is. The Black Hills are sacred to the tribe, but the United States government won’t allow them to perform their ceremonies there anymore.” This reads as a simplistic aside, since their subsequent trip to the Lakota reservation where she meets a girl named Martha never expands on this cursory commentary about American settler colonialism. The closing, in which Stella’s mother sings “This Land Is Your Land” as a celebration of American diversity, provides a final, resounding note of erasure and insensitivity to Native peoples. The story is followed by backmatter that embraces the fraught term “melting pot” and never acknowledges the tension between American ideals and its history of colonialism and slavery, although it does comment with regret on the rise of nationalism following the 2016 presidential election.

Well-intended—but woefully inadequate to its task. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-935874-36-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Satya House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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...

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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