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An unselfish gift given from the biggest heart.

A celebration of a neighborhood soccer team’s star player.

“Our whole neighborhood knows it: No one plays soccer like Madani does.” Though he may not be the tallest or the fastest, he definitely stands out—because he doesn’t wear any shoes when he plays and because there’s nothing he can’t do with the ball. “Madani makes the ball twirl and passes it from one side to the other. He hides it between his legs, shrugs it over his shoulders, catches it on his head….” Madani’s mother is unable to come watch the games because she is a seamstress and must finish her work. But as she sews, she hears the game’s cheers. Madani’s teammates imagine how much better Madani could play with a pair of cleats. When he hints that he is saving money for something that will improve his game, they hope his cleats come in time before their match against a rival team. But instead, he buys something else—something that allows his mother to hear the cheers firsthand and joyfully join in. Pintadera’s author’s note mentions that working with immigrant families—including a boy named Madani—inspired this story. Madani has dark hair and light skin; most characters are light-skinned. Smudgy, sepia-tinged tones warm the palette of this already heartwarming story. Translated from Spanish, the lyrical text is by turns poignant and triumphant. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An unselfish gift given from the biggest heart. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5597-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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

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Nice enough but not worth repeat reads.

Emma deals with jitters before playing the guitar in the school talent show.

Pop musician Kevin Jonas and his wife, Danielle, put performance at the center of their picture-book debut. When Emma is intimidated by her very talented friends, the encouragement of her younger sister, Bella, and the support of her family help her to shine her own light. The story is straightforward and the moral familiar: Draw strength from your family and within to overcome your fears. Employing the performance-anxiety trope that’s been written many times over, the book plods along predictably—there’s nothing really new or surprising here. Dawson’s full-color digital illustrations center a White-presenting family along with Emma’s three friends of color: Jamila has tanned skin and wears a hijab; Wendy has dark brown skin and Afro puffs; and Luis has medium brown skin. Emma’s expressive eyes and face are the real draw of the artwork—from worry to embarrassment to joy, it’s clear what she’s feeling. A standout double-page spread depicts Emma’s talent show performance, with a rainbow swirl of music erupting from an amp and Emma rocking a glam outfit and electric guitar. Overall, the book reads pretty plainly, buoyed largely by the artwork. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Nice enough but not worth repeat reads. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: March 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-35207-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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