Share this one with kids who have very particular tastes.


On his first day of school, a boy uses his favorite thing in the world to make new friends.

Teddy loves three things: his red cape, his yellow rain boots, and spaghetti, which he could eat all day. Teddy isn’t exactly finicky; he likes “spaghetti with red sauce and meatballs…with white sauce with clams…or even with eggs and bacon!” But today the ordinarily happy kid is feeling a bit unnerved: It’s his first day of school. Mom encourages him to just be himself, and by doing so, he quickly gains new friends. But at lunch, the school bully approaches, hurling the titular epithet. Teddy freezes, but his new friends don’t; they are full of compliments for Teddy’s warm, fabulous spaghetti lunch. Teddy invites them to dig in—there’s plenty. And when Bryan the bully asks in a whisper if he might have some, Teddy even shares with him and tells him he loves his new nickname. In Andriani’s cartoon illustrations, the expressive faces and, appropriately, the spaghetti are especial delights. Teddy and his mother have light skin; his classroom is diverse. This mother-daughter collaboration is sweet but slight and unrealistic. With food allergies on the rise, many schools have banned food sharing, and the ease with which the kids deal with the bully is unbelievable. Moreover, while food-shaming is a depressingly common phenomenon, it is rarely the white kid with spaghetti and marinara sauce who is the target.

Share this one with kids who have very particular tastes. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291542-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A full-hearted valentine.


A soaring panegyric to elementary school as a communal place to learn and grow.

“This is a kid,” Schu begins. “This is a kid in a class. This is a class in a hall….” If that class—possibly second graders, though they could be a year to either side of that—numbers only about a dozen in Jamison’s bright paintings, it makes up for that in diversity, with shiny faces of variously brown or olive complexion well outnumbering paler ones; one child using a wheelchair; and at least two who appear to be Asian. (The adult staff is likewise racially diverse.) The children are individualized in the art, but the author’s narrative is addressed more to an older set of readers as it runs almost entirely to collective nouns and abstract concepts: “We share. We help. / This is a community, growing.” Younger audiences will zero in on the pictures, which depict easily recognizable scenes of both individual and collective learning and play, with adults and classmates always on hand to help out or join in. Signs of conflict are unrealistically absent, but an occasional downcast look does add a bit of nuance to the general air of eager positivity on display. A sad face at an apartment window with a comment that “[s]ometimes something happens, and we can’t all be together” can be interpreted as an oblique reference to pandemic closings, but the central message here is that school is a physical space, not a virtual one, where learning and community happen. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A full-hearted valentine. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0458-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25425-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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