A worthwhile fable for sporty, ambitious young readers.

JACKIE WINS THEM ALL

A young Black girl used to taking home first prizes must adjust to someone else getting the gold in this picture book.

“The amazingly talented Jackie J. Spade, a star in the making in just the sixth grade,” has a big race coming up, but she’s not worried. Already a prizewinner in karate and ice skating, dark-skinned, Afro puff–wearing Jackie also “swings a mean bat” and wins spelling bees, science fairs, and chess matches. Readers get little information about Jackie outside of Ferguson’s brisk, rhyming verse about her long streak of achievements, but her smile is bright. Debut illustrator Aryutova’s well-composed digital images in warm tones and textures show happy, adorable Jackie excitedly accepting awards. How will all this victory inform Jackie’s reaction to the inevitable loss? When a Black girl wins first place in the 200-meter dash and Jackie gets second, it’s a horrible shock. A crying Jackie collapses in an effective two-page spread that offers opportunities for conversations between adult readers and children about her feelings. But then Jackie “dusts herself off and wipes tears from her face / she walks right on over and says ‘good race!’ ” The value of sports for all competitors—not to mention Jackie’s hard work—could have been emphasized in the story a little more. Still, the cheerful championing of good sportsmanship among peers and the depiction of mutual recognition and encouragement between young Black girls make this a satisfying tale.

A worthwhile fable for sporty, ambitious young readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-578-75221-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: F. Ferguson Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 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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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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