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WHY ARE WE AFRAID?

A safe space to examine a powerful, often overwhelming feeling.

After the electricity cuts off during a thunderstorm, a pajama-clad father and son discuss fears by candlelight.

As this Spanish import opens, Max asks his dad if he has ever been afraid. Dad explains that fear is universal—and he acknowledges how quickly it can arise. Instantly the home is filled with black ovals of different sizes. As Dad describes various types of fears, Max vividly conjures up visuals. There is fear of the unknown, depicted as a maze of trees, and loneliness, paired with an image of a huddled Max looking at a group of partygoers. There are times when people are afraid “because the real monsters aren’t under the bed after all.” Planes drop black ovals over a city, causing smoke to billow. Pintadera, Sender, and Petricic explored the complexities of another emotion in Why Do We Cry? (2020); they are equally effective in developing a nuanced approach to this topic, even suggesting that “Often we’re afraid of freedom.” Max is not consumed by this conversation. When the streetlights come on, he wants to linger in semidarkness, because “It’s the perfect night for telling stories.” Scary ones. With its surreal imagery, the stylized, arresting artwork evokes fear yet also hope in the face of terror. Max and Dad are both brown-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A safe space to examine a powerful, often overwhelming feeling. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781525311291

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

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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WILLOW THE WHITE HOUSE CAT

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet.

First Lady Biden and Capucilli, author of the Biscuit series, explain how Willow the cat came to reside at the White House.

Willow lives contentedly in a barn. One day, she’s curious when cars approach and people gather to hear a blond woman speak. Willow draws closer, then is delighted as the woman lifts her up and hugs her. That evening, light-skinned Farmer Rick tells Willow she made “quite an impression”: The visitor has invited Willow to live with her. A car arrives to drive Willow away to the White House, her new home in Washington, D.C. There, she’s welcomed by the first lady—the same woman who tenderly held her at the farm. Willow meets the president and explores her new home, filled with elegantly furnished rooms, grand staircases, and historic portraits. Plus, there’s a toy-filled basket! Best of all, there are wonderful people who work in and visit this beautiful house who show Willow kindness and affection. Willow’s favorite resting spot is at the president’s side in the Oval Office, though she also enjoys watching the first lady read to children on the lawn. Animal lovers will especially appreciate this sweet, cat’s-eye view of the White House, which helps humanize the first family by depicting them as ordinary feline fanciers. The loose ink, acrylic, and paint illustrations are cheerful and cozy. Background characters are racially diverse.

Kids will enjoy the opportunity to “mews” on the doings of a presidential pet. (author’s note from Biden, photos) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781665952057

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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