A loving portrayal of brotherhood.

On Juneteenth, with the encouragement of his big brother, a young Black boy explores his ’hood.

Mom, Dad, and Big Bro are ready to walk to the center of town for the big celebration, but the narrator, Lil’ Bro, feels more comfortable and safe at home. Reluctantly, he joins the family and slowly begins to come out of his shell. He wants to play basketball, and with Big Bro’s encouragement, the other kids let him play. When the ball flies into the street, Big Bro pulls Lil’ Bro out of the path of a truck just in time. At the park, the celebration is noisy and overwhelming, but Big Bro helps him have a good day. Other scares on the way to and from the festivities are diminished with the help of Big Bro. By day’s end, Lil’ Bro adopts Big Bro’s refrain of “Don’t worry…it’s all good in the hood!” In rhyming couplets that read like upbeat rap lyrics, educator Reed presents a relatable, worried character and his wonderfully supportive family. The story artfully weaves in a beautiful community celebrating the Juneteenth holiday as a comforting backdrop to the narrator’s fears. Jose’s expressive art depicts a neighborhood full of large, colorful single-family homes with gated yards and children playing outdoors on generous sidewalks. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A loving portrayal of brotherhood. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780316461986

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021


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