A simple tale of building a friendship and good memories using few words and luminous artwork.

WORDS TO MAKE A FRIEND

A STORY IN JAPANESE AND ENGLISH

A day in the snow for two kids in two languages.

Readers might be tempted to flip past the frontmatter to the start of the story. But take time to linger over the evocative endpapers that show a big yellow moving truck parked outside a blue and white house in a snowy landscape. An adult and a child, both with pale skin and black hair, are standing on the porch, about to open the door. Turn the page, and there is another adult-and-child pair, both with brown skin and dark hair, bringing their new neighbors a gift of food. Like many friendships, this story builds slowly, one interaction at a time, urging readers to savor each moment. The first child speaks Japanese and the second, English; yet their intent and interactions are seemingly understood, facilitated by snowy-day play and bilingual conversation. Eventually the cold pushes them inside to enjoy Japanese tea, a treat, and origami. Stoop’s captivating mixed-media illustrations depict dramatic perspectives even in the kids’ first meeting, their bold, bright figures striking against a pastel snowy scene. Napoli’s spare text trusts primarily English-speaking readers to derive sufficient meaning from the bilingual spreads while lacking the scaffolding to facilitate deeper cultural comprehension for both kids. Notes from author and illustrator each offer depth and background as well as insight into their artistic partnership.

A simple tale of building a friendship and good memories using few words and luminous artwork. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12227-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story.

THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE MARIAH

Singer Carey, whose “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is in near-constant rotation each holiday season, makes the leap to Christmas picture book with co-author Davis.

Little Mariah lives in a worn, shabby house in a wealthy neighborhood; though poor, she has a kind nature and musical talent—both of which ultimately save her. Taunted by a nasty brother-sister duo who enter her home uninvited, Little Mariah is distracted by snowfall and runs out into the nearby woods. The snow transforms into Snowflake Butterfly Fairies. Following these entrancing visions, she encounters a gang of bullies but, having tripped over a heart-shaped stone, she uses its magical properties for good in a convoluted series of events. The Butterfly Fairy Queen arrives and crowns Little Mariah the Christmas Princess for her “perfectly pure songs from the heart.” Back at Little Mariah’s house, which has been miraculously transformed, Little Mariah performs Carey’s uber-hit Christmas song. Overwritten, overwrought, overlong, and narrated in clunky verse, this holiday story, seemingly inspired by Carey’s early childhood and with “Little Match Girl” and “Cinderella” vibes, rambles while making its trite, albeit well-meaning, point. It will attract attention because of the star power of its co-author; note her empowering foreword. The colorful illustrations are cheery. Wide-eyed, blond-curled Mariah and the Fairy Queen have light-tan skin; Mariah’s mom and several other characters, including the bullying brother and sister, are pale-skinned; the fairies are diverse in skin tone. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

All we want for Christmas is a more coherent story. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-83711-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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