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This may not have the laugh-out-loud humor or silly sweetness found in many titles of this kind, but Gus has great appeal,...

Should Fly Guy, Elephant and Piggie, Biscuit and Puppy Mudge make room in the growing field of very beginning readers for Gus? Maybe…

In this third book about Gus (Gus Gets Scared and Gus Makes a Friend, both 2011), newly emergent readers can practice recognizing sight words, playing with inflection and mastering repeated vocabulary all while discovering how this pleasant rhino prepares for a special day. Though the simple sentence structure contains only single-syllable words, the colorful cartoon art cues young readers and cleverly augments the text. Remkiewicz, well known for illustrating the Froggy series, proves from the first page that this is no typical day-at-school title. While the text reads “Gus goes to school,” the framed page shows daddy rhino and Gus passing a florist's shop with a huge sign that proclaims “Mom’s Day.” Tension arises during craft time when Gus and a spunky blue elephant compete for creating the most impressive bead necklace: “ ‘See my beads!’ says Tess. / ‘See MY beads!’ says Gus. / ‘NOW see my beads!’ says Tess. / ‘Now see MY beads!’ says Gus.” The page turn reveals an “Oops!” as all but one of Gus’s beads spill to the floor. No need to worry—Mom loves it.

This may not have the laugh-out-loud humor or silly sweetness found in many titles of this kind, but Gus has great appeal, and the story provides just the right level of challenges for those just beginning to read. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-545-24469-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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From the Here I Come! series

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day.

A collection of poems follows a group of elementary school students as they prepare for and celebrate Valentine’s Day.

One student starts the day by carefully choosing clothing in pink, purple, or red, while a family kicks off the morning with a breakfast of red, heart-shaped pancakes. At school, children create valentines until party time finally arrives with lots of yummy treats. The students give valentines to their school friends, of course, but we also see one child making a “special delivery” to a pet, a stuffed animal, family members, and even the crossing guard. The poems also extend the Valentine’s celebration to the community park, where other couples—some older, one that appears to be same-sex—are struck by cupid’s “magical love arrows.” Note the child running away: “Blech!” Not everyone wants to “end up in love!!!” But the spread devoted to Valentine’s jokes will please readers more interested in humor than in romance and inspire children to create their own jokes. To make the celebration complete, the last pages of the book contain stickers and a double-sided “BEE MINE!” valentine that readers can, with adult help, cut out. Cheery and kid-friendly, the poems can be read independently or from cover to cover as a full story. The cartoonish illustrations include lots of hearts and emphasize the growing Valentine’s Day excitement, depicting a diverse classroom that includes students who use wheelchairs. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Effectively captures the excitement surrounding Valentine’s Day. (Picture-book poetry. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38717-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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