Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous.

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THE KING OF KINDERGARTEN

Newbery honoree Barnes (Crown, illustrated by Gordon C. James, 2017) shows a black boy what to expect on his first day as “king” of kindergarten.

A young boy greets the reader with a sweet smile. “The morning sun blares through your window like a million brass trumpets. / It sits and shines behind your head—like a crown.” The text continues in second person while the boy gets ready for his first day—brushing “Ye Royal Chiclets,” dressing himself, eating breakfast with his mother and father before riding “a big yellow carriage” to “a grand fortress.” The kind teacher and the other children at his table are as eager to meet him as he is to meet them. Important topics are covered in class (“shapes, the alphabet, and the never-ending mystery of numbers”), but playing at recess and sharing with new friends at lunch are highlights too, followed by rest time and music. The playful illustrations use texture and shadow to great effect, with vibrant colors and dynamic shapes and lines sustaining readers’ interest on every page. Text and visuals work together beautifully to generate excitement and confidence in children getting ready to enter kindergarten. The little king’s smiling brown face is refreshing and heartwarming. The other children and parents are a mix of races; the teacher and staff are mostly brown.

Necessary nourishment, infectiously joyous. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4074-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Doesn’t quite hit the spot

STRAW

From the Spoon series

A cautionary tale about making experiences last.

The riotous utensil community Rosenthal and Magoon introduced in Spoon (2009) and continued in Chopsticks (2012) returns for a series conclusion starring a blue-and-white–striped bendable straw who “has a great thirst for being first.” Straw slurps up everything in sight, from the water in a flower bowl to a cup of tea, while friends look on in dismay. Since nobody else seems to be competing with Straw, both his fervor and their unhappiness feel ungrounded. But when Straw tries to speed through an icy drink, he’s laid low by brain freeze and “his heart sank,” an awfully dramatic response. Straw’s friend, a novelty straw with loop-de-loop eyes, helps him appreciate the pleasures of taking in life slowly, and Straw is forever changed, suddenly appreciating the colors, textures, and experiences in the world. At bedtime, a parent kisses him and explains that “what you’re feeling is called awe, Straw.” By the end, “sometimes he still wants to be first. But most of the time, Straw wants to make the good things last.” Magoon’s energetic cartoon illustrations are fun to look at, but the lengthy story drives its point into the ground, and neither the problem nor the resolution is interesting enough to convince hasty children to slow down their central nervous systems.

Doesn’t quite hit the spot . (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-148474955-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Dog lovers will especially “LOVE” this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog.

LOVE IS MY FAVORITE THING

Clark captures a dog’s exuberance and love of the simple things.

While the text is missing any mention of “Squirrel!” still, Plum jumps from one thing to the next that she loves, from wind and snow and catching and sticks and the kids next door to the park, water, tug of war, and ice cream. It’s these last four things that get Plum into trouble one day, one awful day when she wonders if any of the people she loves still love her—that’s how naughty she’s been. This is doubly tough for poor Plum, as LOVE is her favorite thing in the world, LOVE being the love she has for her family, Emma and Rupert, and for Gracie and Sam, the kids next door, and the love they have for her. Clark uses white backgrounds and spreads that vary among comic panels, vignettes, single-page and double-page spreads to pace the tale and make it clear to readers just how energetic and exuberant the scruffy black mutt is. And no child will fail to understand the dog’s conundrum: she knows what she should do and yet feels compelled to do the wrong thing anyway. Fur, ears, and posture speak volumes.

Dog lovers will especially “LOVE” this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17503-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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