Timely and timeless, as kindness always is.

ZERO LOCAL

NEXT STOP: KINDNESS

Kindness is contagious in the Murrows’ latest wordless picture book.

The week starts on the Zero Local train the way so many do—with delays. Landscape and figures alike are subsumed in the grays and shadows of textured pencil drawings, capturing the haze of passengers’ Monday frustration. Only two riders break up the gray—a white adult with a yellow hat and a shoulder-riding yellow bird and a young person of color wearing a yellow shirt. The passenger with the yellow hat pulls out pencil and paper to draw a funny picture of birds as a thank-you card for the train driver, a simple act of kindness marked by the driver’s vest’s turning from gray to yellow. The artist’s drawings and kindness continue through the week, until a day comes when they do not board the train. As delays and tension sharply rise, the young rider also decides to create some art and cuts out paper birds to offer to fellow passengers. Where words so often fail, the wordless breathes life into people’s smallest actions and deepest impacts, as the Murrows’ spreads uplift the mundane. It’s a positive love letter to community (even among commuter-train regulars), diversity, and paying it forward. A lack of contrast in the predominantly gray palette may present an obstacle for readers with low sensitivity.

Timely and timeless, as kindness always is. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9747-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A terrific choice for the preschool crowd.

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TIME FOR SCHOOL, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Little Blue Truck learns that he can be as important as the big yellow school bus.

Little Blue Truck is driving along the country road early one morning when he and driver friend Toad come across a big, yellow, shiny school bus. The school bus is friendly, and so are her animal passengers, but when Little Blue Truck wishes aloud he could do an important job like hers, the school bus says only a bus of her size and features can do this job. Little Blue Truck continues along, a bit envious, and finds Piggy crying by the side of the road, having missed the bus. Little Blue tells Piggy to climb in and takes a creative path to the school—one the bus couldn’t navigate—and with an adventurous spirit, gets Piggy there right on time. The simple, rhyming text opens the story with a sweet, fresh, old-fashioned tone and continues with effortlessly rhythmical lines throughout. Little Blue is a brave, helpful, and hopeful character young readers will root for. Adults will feel a rush of nostalgia and delight in sharing this story with children as the animated vehicles and animals in innocent, colorful countryside scenes evoke wholesome character traits and values of growth, grit, and self-acceptance. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A terrific choice for the preschool crowd. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-41224-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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