A playful, poignant, and wonderfully reassuring book for children as they encounter emotional hills and valleys.

WHERE HAPPINESS BEGINS

Sometimes Happiness skips right in step with your stride; other times it’s hard to locate or hold onto.

Readers find Happiness within this winning book’s covers, where it takes shape as a cheery neon pink, amorphous figure (with stumpy appendages and a funny little twisty topknot). Bright cartoon illustrations show a pale child in T-shirt and slacks engaging Happiness in myriad (literal) ways. Happiness hula-hoops, reads, marches, and eats ice cream with the youngster; it also gets lost in a dark forest, runs away, and nods off to sleep. The narrator, a steady and soothing voice, sums up what’s so very hard to understand about Happiness. “You can try to understand it, collect it, or protect it. / You can try to catch it.…But most of the time Happiness appears to have a will of its own.” Vivid, straightforward vignettes are done in a springtime palette on spacious cloud-white backdrops with nary a black line in sight. They succinctly illustrate just how exhilarating, elusive, and ephemeral Happiness can be. A powerful spread of the child riding out mammoth waves in a small boat aptly describes the bravery and resolve required to submit to overwhelming feelings and see them through. A culminating image of the sleeping child curled in bed, cuddling Happiness close with lemony morning light filling the room, provides great comfort.

A playful, poignant, and wonderfully reassuring book for children as they encounter emotional hills and valleys. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12770-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning.

THE MAGICAL YET

Children realize their dreams one step at a time in this story about growth mindset.

A child crashes and damages a new bicycle on a dark, rainy day. Attempting a wheelie, the novice cyclist falls onto the sidewalk, grimacing, and, having internalized this setback as failure, vows to never ride again but to “walk…forever.” Then the unnamed protagonist happens upon a glowing orb in the forest, a “thought rearranger-er”—a luminous pink fairy called the Magical Yet. This Yet reminds the child of past accomplishments and encourages perseverance. The second-person rhyming couplets remind readers that mistakes are part of learning and that with patience and effort, children can achieve. Readers see the protagonist learn to ride the bike before a flash-forward shows the child as a capable college graduate confidently designing a sleek new bike. This book shines with diversity: racial, ethnic, ability, and gender. The gender-indeterminate protagonist has light brown skin and exuberant curly locks; Amid the bustling secondary cast, one child uses a prosthesis, and another wears hijab. At no point in the text is the Yet defined as a metaphor for a growth mindset; adults reading with younger children will likely need to clarify this abstract lesson. The artwork is powerful and detailed—pay special attention to the endpapers that progress to show the Yet at work.

A solid if message-driven conversation starter about the hard parts of learning. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02562-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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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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